Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 23050236
G3 (Bethesda) 2012 Oct;2(10):1257-68
Morphological integration and modularity within semi-autonomous modules are essential mechanisms for the evolution of morphological traits. However, the genetic makeup responsible for the control of variational modularity is still relatively unknown. In our study, we tested the hypothesis that the genetic variation for mandible shape clustered into two morphogenetic components: the alveolar group and the ascending ramus. We used the mouse as a model system to investigate genetics determinants of mandible shape. To do this, we used a combination of geometric morphometric tools and a set of 18 interspecific recombinant congenic strains (IRCS) derived from the distantly related species, Mus spretus SEG/Pas and Mus musculus C57BL/6. Quantitative trait loci (QTL) analysis comparing mandible morphometry between the C57BL/6 and the IRCSs identified 42 putative SEG/Pas segments responsible for the genetic variation. The magnitude of the QTL effects was dependent on the proportion of SEG/Pas genome inherited. Using a multivariate correlation coefficient adapted for modularity assessment and a two-block partial least squares analysis to explore the morphological integration, we found that these QTL clustered into two well-integrated morphogenetic groups, corresponding to the ascending ramus and the alveolar region. Together, these results provide evidence that the mouse mandible is subjected to genetic coordination in a modular manner.