Dr Ezio Rosato's projects

We welcome enquiries from motivated and self-funded individuals. We offer PhD projects in the broad areas of research described below - specific research objectives will be identified after discussion with each prospective student. Funded PhD studentships will be clearly highlighted and advertised when available.

1. Entrainment of the circadian clock of Drosophila

The circadian clock is an endogenous, self-sustained pacemaker able to impart 24-hour rhythmicity to the main biological functions of the organism. Crucial to the running of the clock is its ability to interpret rhythmic environmental cues (i.e. light and temperature) in a proactive manner, rather than merely respond to them; we call this entrainment. My group is particularly interested in understanding the mechanism of action of Cryptochrome, a blue-light sensitive protein with a key role in photic entrainment.

2. Sleep homeostasis and circadian clock in Drosophila

Sleep is as necessary for life as food and water, however we still cannot answer the question: why do we sleep? Moreover, sleep does not occur at random, but normally shows a tight circadian control. The fruit fly, although small, is far from simple, and exhibits a sleep-like state with many similarities to mammalian sleep. This project aims to investigate the role played by clock and clock-controlled genes in sleep homeostasis.

3. Memory, learning and clock in Drosophila

Fruit flies remember a noxious stimulus and can learn to avoid it. This gives a simple paradigm to study a complicated phenomenon, with the advantage that we can use the formidable tools available for Drosophila. The significance of these studies goes well beyond the fly, as the mechanisms of learning and memory are very similar in flies and mammals. This project aims to investigate the circadian modulation of learning and memory and the role played by clock genes in this complex process.

4. Marine clocks

Krill are crucial in the oceans’ ecosystem. In particular, Antarctic krill, Euphausia superba, is the most important species in the Southern hemisphere, being the principal food item of many higher predators (such as whales, seals and sea-birds) and a major consumer of phytoplankton. Its success in the Antarctic is reflected in the large biomass levels, unparalleled anywhere else in the world’s oceans. However, krill populations are declining, probably because of a retreat of winter sea ice, emphasising the urgency of understanding krill life, history and biology. 

This project aims to investigate the genetic basis of rhythmic and synchronised behaviours, such as the 24-hour Daily Vertical Migration (DVM), and the yearly cycle in sexual maturation and metabolic activity.


Dr Ezio Rosato
+44 (0)116 252 3351