Variation of osteocyte lacunae size within the tetrapod skeleton: Implications for palaeogenomics

S. Montanari, S.L. Brusatte, W. De Wolf, M.A. Norell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Recent studies have emphasized the ability to reconstruct genome sizes (C-values) of extinct organisms such as dinosaurs, using correlations between known genome sizes and bone cell (osteocyte lacunae) volumes. Because of the established positive relationship between cell size and genome size in extant vertebrates, osteocyte lacunae volume is a viable proxy for reconstructing C-values in the absence of any viable genetic material. However, intra-skeletal osteocyte lacunae size variation, which could cause error in genome size estimation, has remained unexplored. Here, 11 skeletal elements of one individual from each of four major clades (Mammalia, Amphibia, Aves, Reptilia) were examined histologically. Skeletal elements in all four clades exhibit significant differences in the average sizes of their lacunae. This variation, however, generally does not cause a significant difference in the estimated genome size when common phylogenetic estimation methods are employed. On the other hand, the spread of the estimations illustrates that this method maynot be precise. High variance in genome size estimations remains an outstanding problem. Additionally, a suite of new methods is introduced to further automate the measurement of bone cells and other microstructural features on histological thin sections.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)751-754
Number of pages4
JournalBiology letters
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 23 Oct 2011


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