|An evolutionary view on tooth development and replacement in wild Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.)|In: Evolution & Development. Wiley-Blackwell: Hoboken. ISSN 1520-541X, more
To gain an insight into the evolution of tooth replacement mechanisms, we studied the development of first-generation and replacement teeth on the dentary of wild Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.), a protacanthopterygian teleost, using serially sectioned heads of early posthatching stages as well as adults. First-generation teeth develop within the oral epithelium. The anlage of the replacement tooth is first seen as a placode-like thickening of the outer dental epithelium of the predecessor, at its lingual and caudal side. Ongoing development of the replacement tooth germ is characterized by the elaboration of a population of epithelial cells, termed here the middle dental epithelium, apposed to the inner dental epithelium on the lingual side of the tooth germ. Before the formation of the new successor, a single-layered outer dental epithelium segregates from the middle dental epithelium. The dental organs of the predecessor and the successor remain broadly interconnected. The absence of a discrete successional dental lamina in salmon stands in sharp contrast to what is observed in other teleosts, even those that share with salmon the extraosseous formation of replacement teeth. The mode of tooth replacement in Atlantic salmon displays several characters similar to those observed in the shark Squalus acanthias. To interpret similarities in tooth replacement between Atlantic salmon and chondrichthyans as a case of convergence, or to see them as a result of a heterochronic shift, requires knowledge on the replacement process in more basal actinopterygian lineages. The possibility that the middle dental epithelium functionally substitutes for a successional lamina, and could be a source of stem cells, whose descendants subsequently contribute to the placode of the new replacement tooth, needs to be explored.