Automated monitoring of circadian rhythms is an efficient way of gaining insight into oscillation parameters like period and phase for the underlying pacemaker of the circadian clock. Measurement of the circadian rhythm of phototaxis (swimming towards light) exhibited by the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii has been automated by directing a narrow and dim light beam through a culture at regular intervals and determining the decrease in light transmittance due to the accumulation of cells in the beam. In this study, the monitoring process was optimized by constructing a new computercontrolled measuring machine that limits the test beam to wavelengths reported to be specific for phototaxis and by choosing an algal strain, which does not need background illumination between test light cycles for proper expression of the rhythm. As a result, period and phase of the rhythm are now unaffected by the time a culture is placed into the machine. Analysis of the rhythm data was also optimized through a new algorithm, whose robustness was demonstrated using virtual rhythms with various noises. The algorithm differs in particular from other reported algorithms by maximizing the fit of the data to a sinusoidal curve that dampens exponentially. The algorithm was also used to confirm the reproducibility of rhythm monitoring by the machine. Machine and algorithm can now be used for a multitude of circadian clock studies that require unambiguous period and phase determinations such as light pulse experiments to identify the photoreceptor(s) that reset the circadian clock in C. reinhardtii.


Applied Mathematics | Mathematics