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Patterns of genetic variation and covariation impact the evolution of the craniofacial complex and contribute to clinically significant malocclusions in modern human populations. Previous quantitative genetic studies have estimated the heritabilities and genetic correlations of skeletal and dental traits in humans and nonhuman primates, but none have estimated these quantitative genetic parameters across the dentognathic complex. A large and powerful pedigree from the Jirel population of Nepal was leveraged to estimate heritabilities and genetic correlations in 62 maxillary and mandibular arch dimensions, incisor and canine lengths, and post-canine tooth crown areas (N ≥ 739). Quantitative genetic parameter estimation was performed using maximum likelihood-based variance decomposition. Residual heritability estimates were significant for all traits, ranging from 0.269 to 0.898. Genetic correlations were positive for all trait pairs. Principal components analyses of the phenotypic and genetic correlation matrices indicate an overall size effect across all measurements on the first principal component. Additional principal components demonstrate positive relationships between post-canine tooth crown areas and arch lengths and negative relationships between post-canine tooth crown areas and arch widths, and between arch lengths and arch widths. Based on these findings, morphological variation in the human dentognathic complex may be constrained by genetic relationships between dental dimensions and arch lengths, with weaker genetic correlations between these traits and arch widths allowing for variation in arch shape. The patterns identified are expected to have impacted the evolution of the dentognathic complex and its genetic architecture as well as the prevalence of dental crowding in modern human populations.


This is the peer reviewed version of the following article:

Hardin, A. M., Knigge, R. P., Duren, D. L., Williams-Blangero, S., Subedi, J., Mahaney, M. C., & Sherwood, R. J. (2022). Genetic influences on dentognathic morphology in the Jirel population of Nepal. Anatomical record (Hoboken, N.J. : 2007), 10.1002/ar.24857. Advance online publication.

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Anatomical Record



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Office of Human Genetics

Available for download on Tuesday, January 03, 2023