Sensitive Timing: A Reappraisal of Chronobiology's Foundational Texts
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AbstractThe origin of experimental chronobiology can be traced to observations made in the 18th and 19th centuries on the sensitive plant Mimosa, which were described in two seminal reports: Jean-Jacques d'Ortous de Mairan's "Observation Botanique" (A Botanical Observation) and Augustin Pyramus de Candolle's "Du sommeil des feuilles" (On the sleep of leaves). Both report observations of the striking daily closing and opening of Mimosa leaves in controlled environments. This review presents translations of both texts with the aim of staying as faithful as possible to the original French texts. We also present the historical context in which these texts were written and link them to subsequent experiments that aimed at testing the veracity of their central conclusions. In particular, we definitely establish that Mairan himself presented his work to the French Royal Academy of Sciences, while the published report of his observation was authored by Fontenelle, the Secretary of the Academy. In addition, we offer a translation of Mairan's own presentation, based on the hand-written minutes of the academy. Finally, we discuss the decades of work on plant rhythms that laid the foundation for modern experimental chronobiology, including translations and discussion of the insightful and prescient reports by Charles François de Cisternay Dufay, Henri Louis Duhamel du Monceau, Johann Gottfried Zinn, and Wilhelm Pfeffer, which describe their efforts to reproduce and extend Mairan's pioneering observations.
SourceEmery P, Klarsfeld A, Stanewsky R, Shafer OT. Sensitive Timing: A Reappraisal of Chronobiology's Foundational Texts. J Biol Rhythms. 2023 Jun;38(3):245-258. doi: 10.1177/07487304231169080. Epub 2023 May 25. PMID: 37226809.
Permanent Link to this Itemhttp://hdl.handle.net/20.500.14038/52290