Body "Chemical Calendar"
Scientists have discovered bodyâ€™s â€œchemical calendarâ€ that track the passing of seasons.
16:21 28 September 2015
A research team has found a cluster of thousand cells that have a “binary system” that could exist in either a “summer” or “winter” state, allowing the body to naturally track the passing of seasons.
The scientists from the Universities of Manchester and Edinburgh analysed the brains of the sheep at different times of the year and used the lengthening day to switch more of the cells into summer mode and the opposite when the nights draw in.
Prof Andrew Loudon from the University of Manchester, said: "It looks like there's a short period of the year in the middle of winter and the middle of summer when they are all in one state or the other.”
However, it is still not clear how the body detects the changes in season.
Prof Loudon added: "We've known for some time that melatonin is critical for these long-term rhythms, but how it works and where it works had not been clear until now."
His colleague Prof Dave Burt, from the University of Edinburgh, added: "The seasonal clock found in sheep is likely to be the same in all vertebrates, or at least contains the same parts.
"The next step is to understand how our cells record the passage of time."