Development and regeneration of the crushing dentition in skates

Published on
10. August 2020

Development and regeneration of the crushing dentition in skates (Rajidae)

Liam J. Rasch, Rory L. Cooper, Charlie Underwood, Wesley A. Dillard, Alexandre P. Thiery, Gareth J. Fraser


Sharks and rays (elasmobranchs) have the remarkable capacity to continuously regenerate their teeth. The polyphyodont system is considered the ancestral condition of the gnathostome dentition. Despite this shared regenerative ability, sharks and rays exhibit dramatic interspecific variation in their tooth morphology. Ray (batoidea) teeth typically constitute crushing pads of flattened teeth, whereas shark teeth are pointed, multi-cuspid units. Although recent research has addressed the molecular development of the shark dentition, little is known about that of the ray. Furthermore, how dental diversity within the elasmobranch lineage is achieved remains unknown. Here, we examine dental development and regeneration in two Batoid species: the thornback skate (Raja clavata) and the little skate (Leucoraja erinacea). Using in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry, we examine the expression of a core gnathostome dental gene set during early development of the skate dentition and compare it to development in the shark. Elasmobranch tooth development is highly conserved, with sox2 likely playing an important role in the initiation and regeneration of teeth. Alterations to conserved genes expressed in an enamel knot-like signalling centre may explain the morphological diversity of elasmobranch teeth, thereby enabling sharks and rays to occupy diverse dietary and ecological niches.

Developmental Biology, DOI: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2020.07.014


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