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Morphometrics as an insight into processes beyond tooth shape variation in a bank vole population

Abstract : Phenotype variation is a key feature in evolution, being produced by development and the target of the screening by selection. We focus here on a variable morphological feature: the third upper molar (UM3) of the bank vole, aiming at identifying the sources of this variation. Size and shape of the UM3 occlusal surface was quantified in successive samples of a bank vole population. The first source of variation was the season of trapping, due to differences in the age structure of the population in turn affecting the wear of the teeth. The second direction of variation corresponded to the occurrence, or not, of an additional triangle on the tooth. This intra-specific variation was attributed to the space available at the posterior end of the UM3, allowing or not the addition of a further triangle. This size variation triggering the shape polymorphism is not controlled by the developmental cascade along the molar row. This suggests that other sources of size variation, possibly epigenetic, might be involved. They would trigger an important shape variation as side-effect by affecting the termination of the sequential addition of triangles on the tooth
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Ronan Ledevin, Jean-Pierre Quere, Sabrina Renaud. Morphometrics as an insight into processes beyond tooth shape variation in a bank vole population. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2010, 5 (11), 7 p. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0015470⟩. ⟨hal-02662294⟩

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