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Are breeding teeth in Atlantic salmon a component of the drastic alterations of the oral facial skeleton?
Witten, P.E.; Hall, B.K.; Huysseune, A. (2005). Are breeding teeth in Atlantic salmon a component of the drastic alterations of the oral facial skeleton? Archives of Oral Biology 50(2): 213-217.
In: Archives of Oral Biology. PERGAMON-ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD: Oxford. ISSN 0003-9969; e-ISSN 1879-1506, more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Salmo salar Linnaeus, 1758 [WoRMS]
Author keywords
    dentition; tooth replacement; breeding teeth; spawning migration; salmosalar

Authors  Top 
  • Witten, P.E., more
  • Hall, B.K.
  • Huysseune, A., more

    Upriver spawning migration of starving Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) involves drastic skeletal alterations, among which a toothless stage followed by the appearance of a new set of so-called breeding teeth has been described. To investigate this phenomenon, we examined the patterns of tooth replacement on the lower jaws in different life stages of wild animals before and after spawning. Prior to spawning, every position held either a functional or a replacement tooth, both in first-time (grilse) and repetitive (salmon) spawners. Teeth were in a similar developmental stage every three positions along the tooth row. A functional tooth occurred in every third position and intermediate positions were taken by developing teeth. Within the process of replacement, teeth were resorbed and not shed. Our observations on an uninterrupted tooth replacement pattern provided no evidence of an intermediate toothless stage nor of a specialized breeding-teeth generation. Only animals that survived spawning (kelts) showed a highly variable tooth pattern, but with the initial “every third position” pattern still recognizable in some animals. We hypothesise that previous accounts describing a complete tooth loss/replacement relate to proliferation of the oral mucosa that conceals the teeth prior to the breeding period and to the use of maceration techniques that could have removed all teeth with an incompletely mineralised base.

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