The Evolution and Development of the Mammalian Dentition: Insights from the Marsupial Monodelphis domestica.

Jacqueline Moustakas, Kathleen K. Smith, Leslea Hlusko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


To understand developmental mechanisms of evolutionary change, we must first know how different morphologies form. The vast majority of our knowledge on the developmental genetics of tooth formation derives from studies in mice, which have relatively derived mammalian dentitions. The marsupial Monodelphis domestica has a more plesiomorphic heterodont dentition with incisors, canines, premolars, and molars on both the upper and the lower jaws, and a deciduous premolar. The complexity of the M. domestica dentition ranges from simple, unicusped incisors to conical, sharp canines to multicusped molars. We examine the development of the teeth in M. domestica, with a specific focus on the enamel knot, a signaling center in the embryonic tooth that controls shape. We show that the tooth germs of M. domestica express fibroblast growth factor (FGF) genes and Sprouty genes in a manner similar to wild-type mouse molar germs, but with a few key differences.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDevelopmental Dynamics
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)232-239
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2011
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
  • tooth development
  • enamel knot
  • FGF
  • Sprouty
  • heterodont
  • marsupial
  • Shh
  • tribosphenic
  • 1184 Genetics, developmental biology, physiology

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