Evolutionary Biology

, Volume 45, Issue 3, pp 287–302 | Cite as

Bite Force Performance, Fluctuating Asymmetry and Antisymmetry in the Mandible of Inbred and Outbred Wild-Derived Strains of Mice (Mus musculus domesticus)

  • Samuel Ginot
  • Sylvie Agret
  • Julien Claude
Research Article


Developmental instability, as measured by fluctuating asymmetry is generally considered to increase with genetic and environmental stresses. Few studies have, however, addressed the role of asymmetry in altering organism performance. Here, we measured bite force performance in three strains of inbred and outbred mice derived from wild ancestors. We quantified size and shape directional, and fluctuating asymmetry, as well as inter-individual variation of their mandibles using geometric morphometrics. We also developed a way to estimate shape antisymmetry, to filter it out of the fluctuating asymmetry component. Contrary to our expectations, we found no significant link between bite force and asymmetry levels. Inbreeding did not produce any clear and significant increase or decrease in neither inter-individual variance, nor fluctuating asymmetry. Furthermore, fluctuating asymmetry levels were unrelated to inter-individual variance levels, although these two types of variation affected the same areas of the mandible. We did not highlight any impact of inbreeding depression on bite force. Fluctuating asymmetry was reduced in the mandible, which we argue may be linked to its functional relevance. We found some significant but very reduced antisymmetry possibly linked to lateralization. This lateralization did not relate to any bite force difference. Our results show that neither inbreeding, nor asymmetry (combining fluctuating, directional asymmetry and antisymmetry) significantly affect bite force performance in mice, and that despite affecting the same morphological regions, developmental stability and canalization are independent.


Asymmetry Performance Inbreeding Rodents Lateralization 



The authors thank Jean-Christophe Auffray, Annie Orth, Josette Catalan, Pascale Chevret, Lionel Hautier, who constituted the fieldwork team to the Orkney Archipelago, where the mice originally came from and Roohollah Siahsarvie who took care of the lab colony until 2014. We are also grateful to Sabrina Renaud for leading the project which allowed to start the colony, and for her important comments on the early versions of the manuscript. Finally, we thank one anonymous reviewer for suggesting several interesting ways to improve the manuscript. This publication is a contribution of the Institut des Sciences de l’Evolution de Montpellier (UMR 5554 – UM + CNRS + IRD) No. ISEM 2018-064. This study was supported by the ANR Project Bigtooth (ANR-11-BSV7-008).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.

Supplementary material

11692_2018_9450_MOESM1_ESM.eps (10 kb)
Supplementary material 1. Fig. 1 Shape asymmetry differences between sexes in the different groups of this study. (EPS 10 KB)
11692_2018_9450_MOESM2_ESM.xls (11 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (XLS 11 KB)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut de Genetique Fonctionnelle de LyonENS LyonLyonFrance
  2. 2.Institut des Sciences de l’Evolution de MontpellierUniversite de Montpellier, CNRS, IRDMontpellier Cedex 5France

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