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The effect of nutrient stress on developmental instability in leaves of Acer platanoides (Aceraceae) and Betula pendula (Betulaceae)

  • S Black-Samuelsson
  • Stefan Andersson
Publishing year: 2003
Language: English
Pages: 1107-1112
Publication/Series: American Journal of Botany
Volume: 90
Issue: 8
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Botanical Society of America

Abstract english

Studies of developmental stability can provide insights into the amount of genetic or environmental stress experienced by individuals or populations. In the present study, we used young plants of Acer platanoides (Norway maple) and Betula pendula (silver birch), two distantly related tree species with widely different leaf morphologies, to compare the expression of developmental instability in two contrasting environments: one with free access to nutrients and the other with a severely limited supply of nutrients. Using the difference in size between the right and left side of each leaf as a measure of developmental instability, we found no effect of nutrient deficiency on leaf asymmetry, despite large sample sizes (370-380 plants per species and treatment) and evidence for stress-related changes in overall leaf size and plant biomass. Moreover, there was no consistent relationship between individual leaf asymmetry and plant biomass within each nutrient treatment. In view of these observations, leaf asymmetry appears to be a poor indicator of nutrient stress in young plants of Acer platanoides and Betula pendula.


  • Ecology


  • ISSN: 0002-9122
Stefan Andersson
E-mail: stefan [dot] andersson [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se



+46 46 222 44 08



Research group

Plant Biology



Doctoral students and Postdocs

PhD students, main supervisor

Gróa Valgerdur Ingimudardóttir

Downloads & links

CV (pdf; 19 kb)