Photoperiodic responses differ among inbred strains of golden hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus)

M. H. Vitaterna*, F. W. Turek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Inbred strains of golden hamsters differ in both the free-running period of the circadian rhythm of locomotor activity in constant darkness, and in the phase angle of entrainment of activity to a 14L:10D cycle. To determine whether these differences in circadian entrainment affect photoperiodic time measurement, we measured the critical photoperiod for maintaining testicular function as well as the rate of response for four different inbred strains (MHA/SsLak, LSH/SsLak, BIO 1.5, and BIO 87.20) and an outbred stock (Lak:LVG(SYR)) of golden hamsters. Hamsters of each group were maintained for 12 wk under one of five different LD cycles. Animals of all groups maintained testis size in 14L:10D and 12.5L:11.5D. Significant strain differences were observed in the critical photoperiod for maintaining testis size after 12 wk; the LSH/SsLak inbred strain showed complete testicular regression during exposure to 12L:12D, while little change was observed in any of the other strains under this photoperiod. Some degree of testicular regression was observed in all groups exposed to 11.5L:12.5D, while complete regression was observed in all animals exposed to 6L:18D. The rate of testicular regression differed markedly between the different groups under both 6L:18D and 11.5L:12.5D. The differences in critical photoperiod and rate of testicular regression observed between the various strains could not be correlated with the known strain differences in entrainment or circadian period, indicating that genetic differences in photoperiodic response are not related to the genetic differences in circadian rhythmicity. Furthermore, these results demonstrate that for any given genotype of golden hamster, the rate of testicular regression during exposure to an inhibitory photoperiod varies as a function of the day length, and thus the apparent critical photoperiod may depend upon the length of exposure to a given day length.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)496-501
Number of pages6
JournalBiology of reproduction
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Cell Biology


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