Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Pufferfish at the 'beak' of evolution: Why humans don't continuously replace their teeth

Date:
May 14, 2012
Source:
University of Sheffield
Summary:
Prickly pufferfish could hold the key to why humans do not continually replace their teeth and may lead to advances in dental therapies.

Giant porcupine puffer.
Credit: © martywakat / Fotolia

Prickly pufferfish could hold the key to why humans do not continually replace their teeth and may lead to advances in dental therapies.

New research focusing on tooth development in the deadly fish -unchanged through evolution -- shows that after the first generation of teeth the programme for continued tooth replacement modifies to form a distinctive and unusual `parrot like´ beak.

The study, which is the first time scientists have analysed the development of the fish´s unique beak, also supports the idea that evolution doesn´t make jumps, as its distinctive bite has been modified from a set of genes responsible for tooth development and preserved over 400 million years.

Dr Gareth Fraser of the University of Sheffield´s Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, who led the project, said: "It goes beyond fishes and even morphological novelty; we can use the pufferfish beak as a model for a simplified tooth replacement system -- composed of just four continually replacing teeth that make up the beak structure. It is of great interest for science to understand the process of tooth replacement, to understand the genes that govern the continued supply of teeth and mechanisms of dental stem cell maintenance.

"As humans only replace their teeth once, fishes and pufferfish in particular, can be looked at as a new model to help us to answer questions like how continuous tooth replacement programmes are maintained throughout life? This would help our understanding of why humans have lost this replacement potential, and furthermore how can we use knowledge of the genetic underpinnings of tooth replacement in fishes to facilitate advances in dental therapies."

Pufferfish are bony fish, which are extremely diverse and make up almost half of all living vertebrates. This group uses a highly conserved process to form a unique beak-like jaw that has made teeth in all vertebrates -- animals with spines -- for millions of years.

The research catalogued the dental development throughout all stages of the pufferfish´s growth, from the production of initial-teeth to the construction of its distinctive `beak´. The research showed that the strange structure didn´t appear from scratch during embryonic development as a complete vertebrate novelty, but rather originates from the modified development of replacement teeth after the formation of an initial dentition, which appears like `normal´ fish teeth.

Dr Fraser added: "The beak structure is made from many bands of dentine, stacked together, each band represents a new replacement `tooth´, and they can have more than seven separate bands making up the beak, with new bands continuously being formed to replace those damaged by eating.

"Only after the start of the tooth replacement programme in just four of these first-generation teeth does this novel and bizarre beak-like structure appear. It is an example of re-specification of its genetic tool-kit for tooth development toward a very alternative, and unique, dentition.

Pufferfishes are the most bizarre of the bony fishes and have recently become a useful genetic model with the pufferfish genome project near completion. It is hoped it will provide a valuable model system for genetics, genomics, biomedical sciences and now development, not to mention the importance of this group to our understanding of the evolution of morphological novelty and vertebrate diversity.

The paper was carried out in collaboration with the Natural History Museum, London and King´s College London.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Sheffield. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. G. J. Fraser, R. Britz, A. Hall, Z. Johanson, M. M. Smith. Replacing the first-generation dentition in pufferfish with a unique beak. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2012; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1119635109

Cite This Page:

University of Sheffield. "Pufferfish at the 'beak' of evolution: Why humans don't continuously replace their teeth." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120514112826.htm>.
University of Sheffield. (2012, May 14). Pufferfish at the 'beak' of evolution: Why humans don't continuously replace their teeth. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120514112826.htm
University of Sheffield. "Pufferfish at the 'beak' of evolution: Why humans don't continuously replace their teeth." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120514112826.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Big Pharma Braces for M&A Wave

Big Pharma Braces for M&A Wave

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 22, 2014) — Big pharma on the move as Novartis boss, Joe Jimenez, tells Reuters about plans to transform his company via an asset exchange with GSK, and Astra Zeneca shares surge on speculation that Pfizer is looking for a takeover. Joanna Partridge reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) — NBC's "Today" conducted an experiment to see if changing the size of plates and utensils affects the amount individuals eat. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How to Master Motherhood With the Best Work/Life Balance

How to Master Motherhood With the Best Work/Life Balance

TheStreet (Apr. 22, 2014) — In the U.S., there are more than 11 million couples trying to conceive at any given time. From helping celebrity moms like Bethanny Frankel to ordinary soon-to-be-moms, TV personality and parenting expert, Rosie Pope, gives you the inside scoop on mastering motherhood. London-born entrepreneur Pope is the creative force behind Rosie Pope Maternity and MomPrep. She explains why being an entrepreneur offers the best life balance for her and tips for all types of moms. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
Catching More Than Fish: Ugandan Town Crippled by AIDS

Catching More Than Fish: Ugandan Town Crippled by AIDS

AFP (Apr. 22, 2014) — The village of Kasensero on the shores of Lake Victoria was where HIV-AIDS was first discovered in Uganda. Its transient population of fishermen and sex workers means the nationwide programme to combat the virus has had little impact. Duration: 02:30 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins