Craniofacial variability and modularity in macaques and mice



Evolutionary developmental biology of primates will be driven largely by the developmental biology of the house mouse. Inferences from how known developmental perturbations produce phenotypic effects in model organisms, such as mice, to how the same perturbations would affect craniofacial form in primates must be informed by comparisons of phenotypic variation and variability in mice and the primate species of interest. We use morphometric methods to compare patterns of cranial variability in homologous datasets obtained for two strains of laboratory mice and rhesus macaques. C57BL/6J represents a common genetic background for transgenic models. A/WySnJ mice exhibit altered facial morphology which results from reduction in the growth of the maxillary process during formation of the face. This is relevant to evolutionary changes in facial prognathism in nonhuman primate and human evolution. Rhesus macaques represent a nonhuman primate about which a great deal of phenotypic and genetic information is available. We find significant similarities in covariation patterns between the C57BL/6J mice and macaques. Among-trait variation in genetic and phenotypic variances are fairly concordant among the three groups, but among-trait variation in developmental stability is not. Finally, analysis of modularity based on phenotypic and genetic correlations did not reveal a consistent pattern in the three groups. We discuss the implications of these results for the study of evolutionary developmental biology of primates and outline a research strategy for integrating mouse genomics and developmental biology into this emerging field. J. Exp. Zool. (Mol. Dev. Evol.) 302B:207–225, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.