- • We studied patterns of fluctuating asymmetry (FA) in leaves of four populations of the neotropical vine Dalechampia scandens to obtain insight into the origin of leaf FA and the level at which it is controlled. We analysed correlations in signed and unsigned asymmetry at different organizational levels. We also analysed the ontogeny of FA during leaf expansion to test whether asymmetry is regulated during cell expansion, and whether fast-expanding leaves are more or less asymmetrical.
- • Signed asymmetry was negatively correlated between successive leaves, that is, when the right side of a leaf was larger than the left side, the next leaf on the shoot tended to show the opposite pattern. The magnitude of FA, however, was very weakly correlated among successive leaves or among leaves measured on different shoots.
- • The direction of asymmetry did not change during leaf expansion, but the relative asymmetry, that is, asymmetry corrected for difference in trait size, decreased during expansion. We found a weak negative relationship between leaf expansion rate and relative asymmetry on the fully expanded leaves.
- • These results suggest that leaf asymmetry in Dalechampia originates from perturbations in cell proliferation in the stem, creating asymmetries in opposite directions in successive leaves. These asymmetries persist during leaf expansion, but tend to be reduced by unknown mechanisms.