A quantitative genetic analysis of localized morphology in mandibles of inbred mice using finite element scaling analysis

J. M. Cheverud, S. E. Hartman, J. T. Richtsmeier, W. R. Atchley

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65 Scopus citations


We analyzed patterns of mandibular genetic and phenotypic morphological integration and the relationship of genealogy to interstrain molecular and morphological differences in ten inbred strains of mice. Positions of mandibular landmarks in two-dimensional space were used to construct a finite element mesh for each individual, then all individuals from the ten strains were compared to the average mandible from a standard strain (SEA/GnJ). Measures of size and shape associated with finite element scaling analysis were then used in a quantitative genetic analysis of mandibular variation. Significant genetic variation for mandibular size and shape was uncovered. Patterns of both genetic and phenotypic correlation for measures of landmark-specific sizes were consistent with models of morphological integration based on the developmental origin of parts of the mandible and on the effects of muscle attachment on mandibular morphology. Shape differences local to particular landmarks did not show these forms of morphological integration. Although interstrain distances based on local shape magnitudes were significantly correlated with genealogical relationship, distances based on local size differences were not. Even higher than the correlation of genealogy with distances based on local shape magnitude was the genealogical-molecular distance correlation. Patterns of morphometric mandibular variation corresponded to expected effects of epigenetic developmental processes. Also, when detailed shape differences were considered, morphology served as a rough guide to genealogy, although molecular distances showed a stronger relationship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)122-137
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Craniofacial Genetics and Developmental Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 30 1991

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology


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