Grant TypePost PhD Research Grant
Institutional AffiliationU. Nacional de La Plata
Grant numberGr. 9391
Approve DateOctober 19, 2016
Project TitleDelgado, Dr. Miguel Eduardo, U. Nacional de La Plata, La Plata, Argentina - To aid research on 'The Genetic Architecture of Modern Human Dental Morphology'
Preliminary abstract: Among the most common and well preserved skeletal elements within the hominin fossil record are the teeth which have been intensively used in evolutionary studies. In addition, much of the contemporary human diversity has been assessed using dental characters, including applications in forensic sciences. However, the genetic bases underlying variation in dental morphology continues to be poorly understood. A number of studies have indicated that this variation is highly heritable but very few genes influencing dental morphology have been reliably identified. The unprecedented power provided by current genomic technologies offers a great opportunity for a detailed assessment of the genetic basis of modern human dental morphological variation. The present study proposes to identify genes responsible for variation in tooth morphology through multiple genetic tests including a genome-wide association study (GWAS). We will examine over 1000 unrelated Latin Americans of mixed European/Native American/African ancestry. These persons have been studied as part of a similar project focused on the genetics of physical appearance. We will obtain dental plaster casts from these individuals which will be laser-scanned. The 3D images will be used to study dental features such as nonmetric traits and crown measurements as well as to perform landmark-based geometric morphometric analyses. The data generated will be useful to test hypotheses currently debated in anthropology, paleontology and evolutionary biology. Likewise, a more clear understanding of the way teeth are influenced by genes and of the factors impacting their diversity is crucial to make reliable inferences on the dental evolution of modern humans, and the use of dentition in population, genetic, evo-devo and forensic studies. From a medical perspective, the identification of genes involved in dental development is also important since such genes potentially could be mutated in disorders of human dentition