Biorhythm of growth

Investigating the biological clock to clarify differences in childhood growth

Human teeth retain evidence of two underlying biological clocks. One of these clocks produces a daily-circadian biorhythm that regulates our sleep and is linked to some aspects of human growth and health. The other biological clock is slower. It produces layers in teeth, like tree rings. The slower clock oscillates every four to 12 days in children. It is a mystery why it oscillates in this way.

Image of section showing the effect of the biorhythm in human teeth.
Thin section showing the effect of the biorhythm in human teeth. (Image by Patrick Mahoney)

This project aims to shed new light on differences in childhood growth by investigating the slower biological clock. We know from our research that this clock produces a biorhythm that is linked to final adult stature and tooth enamel thickness. We do not know how it relates to the growth of any tissue within children. We will combine histology and longitudinal observation with theoretical biology to determine if childhood growth is related to this biorhythm. Answering this question will establish new research pathways to investigate our species from unique developmental and evolutionary perspectives.

PI Dr Patrick Mahoney
Co-I Dr Carolina Loch (University of Otago), Dr Priscilla Bayle (University of Bordeaux), Prof Debbie Guatelli-Steinberg (The Ohio State University)

Project dates

Dr Bruce Floyd (University of Auckland)

January 2019 – January 2022