For a biological oscillator to function as a circadian pacemaker that confers a fitness advantage, its timing functions must be stable in response to environmental and metabolic fluctuations. One such stability enhancer, temperature compensation, has long been a defining characteristic of these timekeepers. However, an accurate biological timekeeper must also resist changes in metabolism, and this review suggests that temperature compensation is actually a subset of a larger phenomenon, namely metabolic compensation, which maintains the frequency of circadian oscillators in response to a host of factors that impinge on metabolism and would otherwise destabilize these clocks. The circadian system of prokaryotic cyanobacteria is an illustrative model because it is composed of transcriptional and nontranscriptional oscillators that are coupled to promote resilience. Moreover, the cyanobacterial circadian program regulates gene activity and metabolic pathways, and it can be manipulated to improve the expression of bioproducts that have practical value.


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