My research is aimed at answering this question: How do living things tell time? I am interested in circadian rhythms, the daily activity cycles driven by internal clocks in all eukaryotes and some prokaryotes. The goal of my research is to describe the mechanism of a circadian clock at the molecular and biochemical level. Because circadian rhythmicity is a fundamental property of all eukaryotic cells, an understanding of the mechanism of rhythmicity will give us important insights into how cells function.
I work with the filamentous fungus Neurospora crassa, a model organism that is at the forefront of circadian rhythm research. We use the rhythm of spore-formation (conidiation) as a visible marker for the state of the internal clock. Previous research has shown that the FRQ, WC-1 and WC-2 proteins are important for rhythmicity in Neurospora, but our understanding of how the circadian clock functions must be incomplete because conidiation rhythms can continue in the absence of functional FRQ and WC genes. I am interested in finding the oscillator that drives rhythmicity in the absence of FRQ (the FRQ-less oscillator, or FLO).