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Data from: Artificial selection sheds light on developmental mechanisms of limb elongation


Marchini, Marta; Rolian, Campbell (2018), Data from: Artificial selection sheds light on developmental mechanisms of limb elongation, Dryad, Dataset,


Species diversity in limb lengths and proportions is thought to have evolved adaptively in the context of locomotor and habitat specialization, but the heritable cellular processes that drove this evolution within species are poorly understood. In this study, we take a novel “micro-evo-devo” approach, using artificial selection on relative limb length to amplify phenotypic variation in a population of mice, known as Longshanks, to examine the cellular mechanisms of postnatal limb development that contribute to intraspecific limb length variation. Cross-sectional growth data indicate that differences in bone length between Longshanks and random-bred controls are not due to prolonged growth, but to accelerated growth rates. Histomorphometric and cell proliferation assays on proximal tibial growth plates show that Longshanks’ increased limb bone length is associated with an increased number of proliferative chondrocytes. In contrast, we find no differences in other growth plate cellular features known to underlie interspecific differences in limb bone size and shape, such as the rates of chondrocyte proliferation or the size and number of hypertrophic cells in the growth plate. These data suggest that small differences among individuals in the number of proliferating chondrocytes are a potentially important determinant of selectable intraspecific variation in individual limb bone lengths, independent of body size.

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