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Am J Phys Anthropol. 1978 Nov;49(4):497-504.

Heritability of permanent tooth size.


The aim of this investigation was to quantify the relative contributions of genetic and environmental influences to the observed variability of permanent tooth size in a group of Australian Aboriginals. Tooth size data were obtained from dental casts of Aboriginals living at Yuendumu in the Northern Territory of Australia. The custom of polygyny practised by these people enabled the analysis of associations between full-siblings and half-siblings. Phenotypic variability of tooth size was partitioned into four variance components; between sides, between fathers, between mothers and between offspring. From these components, the relative genetic and environmental contributions were quantified and heritability estimates for tooth size derived. Additional estimates of heritability were obtained by regression analysis from a small sample of parent-offspring data. Results of the analyses suggested that about 64% of the total variability of permanent tooth size could be attributed to genetic factors, while a further 6% was due to common environment. Although the findings confirm a relatively strong genetic component, they emphasise the importance of non-genetic influences in the determination of tooth size variability.

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