Gene expression and metabolomic phenotype in response to artificial light at night

Barbara Helm & Davide Dominoni

Exposure to artificial light at night, associated with urbanization, is increasingly perceived as a threat for health and well-being of humans and other organisms. We propose to investigate in an avian model how artificial light at night may affect the expression of clock genes and glucocorticoid receptor genes that are involved in regulating daily rhythms of activity and metabolism. We will deploy quantitative real-time PCR on brain tissues that will be collected from captive European blackbirds that are currently exposed to either dark nights or light at night.

In addition, using ’ expertise and the recent advances in metabolomics analysis, we will assess the effect of light at night on the blackbirds’ metabolome. We expect that this approach will promote an understanding of the relationship between genes and functional phenotype of an organism in response to a highly topical environmental stressor, artificial light at night.