3D microstructural study of selachimorph enameloid evolution

J Struct Biol. 2021 Mar;213(1):107664. doi: 10.1016/j.jsb.2020.107664. Epub 2020 Nov 19.


Enameloid, the hyper-mineralized tissue covering shark teeth is a complex structure resulting from both ameloblast and odontoblast activity. The way these two types of cells interact to set up this tissue is not fully understood and results in the formation of subunits in the enameloid: the Single Crystallite Enameloid (SCE) and the Bundled Crystallite Enameloid (BCE). Using the Focused Ion Beam Nanotomography (FIB-nt), 3D images were produced to assess the relationship between the SCE and BCE of one fossil and one recent neoselachian shark teeth. 3D analysis of crystallite bundles reveals a strong connection between the crystallites forming the SCE and those forming the bundles of the Radial Bundle Enameloid (RBE), a component of the BCE, although it has been suggested that SCE and BCE have a different origin: epithelial for the SCE and mesenchymal for the BCE. Another significant result of the use of FIB-nt is the visualization of frequent branching among the radial bundles forming the RBE, including horizontal link between adjacent bundles. FIB-nt demonstrates therefore a strong potential to decipher the complex evolution of hyper-mineralised tissue in shark teeth, and, therefore, to better understand the evolution of tooth structure among basal Gnathostomes.

Keywords: Enameloid; FIB-SEM serial sectioning; FIB/SEM tomography; Microstructure analyses; Shark; Tooth.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Fossils
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Minerals / chemistry*
  • Sharks / anatomy & histology
  • Tooth / anatomy & histology


  • Minerals