Quantitative genetic analyses of postcanine morphological crown variation

Christopher M. Stojanowski, Kathleen S. Paul, Andrew C. Seidel, William N. Duncan, Debbie Guatelli-Steinberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Objectives: This article presents estimates of narrow-sense heritability and bivariate genetic correlation for 14 tooth crown morphological variants scored on permanent premolars, first molars, and second molars. The objective is to inform data collection and analytical practices in dental biodistance and to provide insights on the development of molar crowns as integrated structures. Materials and Methods: African American dental casts from the Menegaz-Bock collection were recorded for the Arizona State University Dental Anthropology System. Estimates of narrow-sense heritability and genetic correlation were generated using SOLAR v.8.1.1, which included assessment of age, sex, and birth year as covariates. Both continuous scale and dichotomized estimates are provided. Results: Heritability estimates were nonsignificant for the majority of variables; however, for variables yielding significant estimates, values were moderate to high in magnitude and comparable to previous studies. Comparing left and right-side heritability estimates suggests directional asymmetry in the expression of environmental variance, something not seen in anterior tooth traits. Genetic correlations were moderate among antimeres and metameres and low for different traits scored on the same tooth crown. Although several negative correlations were noted, few reached statistical significance. Results affirm some of the current data cleaning and analytical practices in dental biodistance, but others are called into question. These include the pooling of males and females and combining left and right-side data into a single dataset. Conclusions: In comparison to anterior tooth crown traits, postcanine heritabilities were more often non-significant; however, those traits with significant heritability also tended to produce higher estimates. Genetic correlations were unremarkable, in part, because they were underpowered. However, M1 results may provide insight into the complex relationship between genes, environment, and development in determining ultimate crown form.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)606-631
Number of pages26
JournalAmerican journal of physical anthropology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2019


  • biodistance
  • dental morphology
  • heritability
  • pleiotropy
  • quantitative genetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Anthropology


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