Does Gonyaulax polyedra measure a week?

Germaine G Cornelissen-Guillaume, Hellmuth Broda, Franz Halberg

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19 Scopus citations


Cell communication was investigated in Gonyaulax polyedra by mixing two cultures grown on opposite lighting regimens, as reported in a companion paper (1). Herein, using the same data, 7-d (circaseptan) rhythms are also shown to characterize the luminescence of this cellular organism. A fraction of a culture of G. polyedra, grown in 12 h of light (L), alternating with 12 h of darkness (D), was exposed for 3 d to an LD-shift by 11 h. The circadian glow rhythm was compared under free-running conditions (LL) for cultures previously kept on the two differing LD regimens and for mixed cultures. A circaseptan modulation of the circadian amplitude is detected in cultures that had not undergone an LD shift and in some of the mixed cultures, but not in the shifted cultures. A statistically significantly lower circaseptan amplitude (<50%) and acrophase advance of over 120° or 56 h (p<0.001) characterizes the mixed cultures, as compared to the original unshifted cultures, a finding that could mean that G. polyedra communicates along a circaseptan frequency. Whether a prior phase-shift known to affect circaseptan behavior in another unicell, Acetabularia mediterranea, led to an alteration of the time structure of G. polyedra remains an interesting subject for further study in this model, a model attractive to students of unicellular rhythms and underlying mechanisms that henceforth should be studied at multiple circadian and circaseptan frequencies. Circadian and circaseptan interrelations can both serve as markers for mechanisms of intercellular communication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-85
Number of pages17
JournalCell Biophysics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1986


  • Gonyaulax polyedra, intercellular communication
  • bioluminescence
  • circadian and circaseptan interrelations
  • circadian glow rhythms
  • circadian rhythms
  • circaseptan (7-d) rhythms
  • multiple circadian frequencies
  • unicellular rhythms, mechanisms of


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