Patterns of morphological variation in enamel-dentin junction and outer enamel surface of human molars.
Tooth crown patterning is governed by the growth and folding of the inner enamel epithelium (IEE) and the following enamel deposition forms outer enamel surface (OES). We hypothesized that overall dental crown shape and covariation structure are determined by processes that configurate shape at the enamel–dentine junction (EDJ), the developmental vestige of IEE. This this hypothesis was tested by comparing patterns of morphological variation between EDJ and OES in human permanent maxillary first molar (UM1) and deciduous second molar (um2). Using geometric morphometric methods, we described morphological variation and covariation between EDJ and OES, and evaluated the strength of two components of phenotypic variability, canalization and morphological integration, in addition to the relevant evolutionary flexibility, i.e. the ability to respond to selective pressure. The strength of covariation between EDJ and OES was greater in um2 than in UM1, and the way that multiple traits covary between EDJ and OES was different between these teeth. The variability analyses showed that EDJ had less shape variation and a higher level of morphological integration than OES, which indicated that canalization and morphological integration acted as developmental constraints. These tendencies were greater in UM1 than in um2. On the other hand, EDJ and OES had a comparable level of evolvability in these teeth. Amelogenesis could play a significant role in tooth shape and covariation structure, and its influence was not constant among teeth, which may be responsible for the differences in the rate and/or period of enamel formation.