Mechanisms and models of spatiotemporal patterns in polyphyodont dentition

Department of Mathematics Seminar Series
Eric Cytrynbaum, University of British Columbia

For over a century, the development and replacement of reptile teeth has been of interest originally for its value in comparative anatomy and evolutionary biology due to the prevalence of teeth in the fossil record and more recently as a model system for understanding spatiotemporal patterning in developmental biology. In collaboration with the Richman Lab (Joy Richman, UBC Dentistry), we are using the Leopard Gecko as a model organism to address the question of the mechanisms underlying the regular and long-lasting spatiotemporal patterns of tooth replacement seen in many polyphyodonts. In this talk, I will describe the data and our implementation and analysis of several mechanisms/models that have been proposed (but not implemented in mathematical form) in the past to explain the observations. Finding shortcomings in these models, we propose a new model, the Phase Inhibition Model, which does better at explaining the data. I will conclude by discussing ideas for how this model might be integrated with existing reaction-diffusion models of early development of dentition in reptiles.