Melatonin: a possible link between the presence of artificial light at night and reductions in biological fitness

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences

Full article:

Marzo 2015

Therésa M. Jones *, Joanna Durrant, Ellie B. Michaelides, Mark P. Green

* Department of Zoology, The University of Melbourne, 3010 VIC, Australia

The mechanisms underpinning the ecological impacts of the presence of artificial night lighting remain elusive. One suspected underlying cause is that the presence of light at night (LAN) supresses nocturnal production of melatonin, a key driver of biological rhythm and a potent antioxidant with a proposed role in immune function. Here, we briefly review the evidence for melatonin as the link between LAN and changes in behaviour and physiology. We then present preliminary data supporting the potential for melatonin to act as a recovery agent mitigating the negative effects of LAN in an invertebrate. Adult crickets (Teleogryllus commodus), exposed to constant illumination, were provided with dietary melatonin (concentrations: 0, 10 or 100 µg ml−1) in their drinking water. We then compared survival, lifetime fecundity and, over a 4-week period, immune function (haemocyte concentration, lysozyme-like and phenoloxidase (PO) activity). Melatonin supplementation was able only partially to mitigate the detrimental effects of LAN: it did not improve survival or fecundity or PO activity, but it had a largely dose-dependent positive effect on haemocyte concentration and lysozyme-like activity. We discuss the implications of these relationships, as well as the usefulness of invertebrates as model species for future studies that explore the effects of LAN

Photo CC BY-NC by me’nthedogs on Flickr

Article fished from the ALAN research literature database