Noise-Induced Coherence in Multicellular Circadian Clocks


The Biophysical Society


In higher organisms, circadian rhythms are generated by a multicellular genetic clock that is entrained very efficiently to the 24-h light-dark cycle. Most studies done so far of these circadian oscillators have considered a perfectly periodic driving by light, in the form of either a square wave or a sinusoidal modulation. However, in natural conditions, organisms are subject to nonnegligible fluctuations in the light level all through the daily cycle. In this article, we investigate how the interplay between light fluctuations and intercellular coupling affects the dynamics of the collective rhythm in a large ensemble of nonidentical, globally coupled cellular clocks modeled as Goodwin oscillators. On the basis of experimental considerations, we assume an inverse dependence of the cell-cell coupling strength on the light intensity, in such a way that the larger the light intensity, the weaker the coupling. Our results show a noise-induced rhythm generation for constant light intensities at which the clock is arrhythmic in the noise-free case. Importantly, the rhythm shows a resonancelike phenomenon as a function of the noise intensity. Such improved coherence can be only observed at the level of the overt rhythm and not at the level of the individual oscillators, thus suggesting a cooperative effect of noise, coupling, and the emerging synchronization between the oscillators.

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