Patterns of leaf asymmetry changes in Plantago major L. (ssp major) natural populations exposed to different environmental conditions
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In the present study, developmental stability of leaf traits was examined in three natural populations of Plantago major L. (ssp. major), representing two polluted environments (Karaburma and Zemun) and an unpolluted area (Crni Lug). Developmental stability was assessed as fluctuating asymmetry (FA). The magnitude of FA is believed to reflect differences in the ability of individuals to buffer their development in natural populations. We hypothesized that there are differences within characters and among characters in response to environmental conditions. Significant patterns of asymmetry correlations and asymmetry changes were detected both within characters and between characters. The manova results revealed a significant effect of individual and a significant individual x environment interaction on actual asymmetry (logLi - logRi) and on the amount of asymmetry |(logLi - logRi)| for leaf width and vein distances within a leaf. Over time, statistically significant and positive correlations of the FA values were detected for each trait separately per sample (population). For both leaf traits, there were differences for (logLi - logRi) and |(logLi - logRi)| asymmetry values among individuals within samples in response to yearly variations. Statistically significant and negative correlations for (logLi - logRi) versus |(logLi - logRi)| asymmetries were detected for both leaf traits. In summary, our results highlight the importance of differences in the ability of individuals to buffer their development under different environmental conditions and point to the concept that developmental stability is character specific.