Goldlined spinefoot, Siganus guttatus, inhabits tropical and subtropical waters and synchronizes its spawning around the first quarter moon likely using an hourglass-like lunar timer. In previous studies, we have found that clock genes (Cryptochrome3 and Period1) could play the role of state variable in the diencephalon when determining the lunar phase for spawning. Here, we identified three Cry, two Per, two Clock, and two Bmal genes in S. guttatus and investigated their expression patterns in the diencephalon and pituitary gland. We further evaluated the effect on their expression patterns by daily interruptions of moonlight stimuli for 1 lunar cycle beginning at the new moon. It significantly modified the expression patterns in many of the examined clock(-related) genes including Cry3 in the diencephalon and/or pituitary gland. Acute interruptions of moonlight around the waxing gibbous moon upregulated nocturnal expressions of Cry1b and Cry2 in the diencephalon and pituitary gland, respectively, but did not affect expression levels of the other clock genes. These results highlighted the importance of repetitive moonlight illumination for stable or lunar-phase-specific daily expression of clock genes in the next lunar cycle that may be important for the lunar-phase-synchronized spawning on the next first quarter moon.
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