Developmental stability and morphological differences in Plantago major L. leaves under contrasting environmental conditions
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In the present study, an additional combination of end-points was applied on the natural populations of the common plantain, previously estimated using morphometric assays. Here, besides measuring developmental instability (DI), by determining the level of fluctuating asymmetry (FA) and the total amount of phenotypic variability (PV), we tried to distinguish the three natural populations under contrasting environmental conditions using the morphological data. Results obtained using both FA indices were the same; higher asymmetry levels in the reference than in the polluted environments were detected for leaf width, vein distances within a leaf and lobe length. The one-way analysis of variance results revealed that there were significant differences in PV values among populations analysed for each character. When all leaf traits were considered together, the PV median value was significantly higher in Crni Lug leaves compared with leaves from other sites. The multivariate analysis of variance results revealed the significant effect of environment on both FA4 and PV values. The component scores of first factor (PC1) were significantly different between the Karaburma and Crni Lug populations. Besides, component scores of both PC1 and PC2 were significantly different between the Zemun and Crni Lug samples. The stepwise discriminant functional analysis results allowed us to identify a set of four variables, with a sufficient discriminating ability (75%).