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The ecological context of bilateral symmetry of organ and organisms

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DOI: 10.4236/ns.2014.64022    3,320 Downloads   4,567 Views   Citations


A particular phenotype is generated through numerous networks of interactions from within the cell to the whole ecosystem. The level of the environmental noise and the ability of a given genotype to render different phenotypes under different environmental conditions, called phenotypic plasticity, determine survival or death at individual and/or population level. It is important to highlight that non-lethal environmental changes are important for generating genetic variability and promoting biological adaptations. However, when the level of environmental noise starts to be stressed, the developmental stability (DS) of the organism can be perturbed. The DS has been analysed through the symmetry deviations in organs or organisms with bilateral structure. The symmetry deviations occur due to inability to contain disorders from environmental or endogenous conditions during its development. This deviation is called fluctuating asymmetry (FA) when is a non-directional deviation in the symmetry of a bilateral structure normally distributed in a population. Low FA has been associated with greater DS. The analysis of FA has often been used to measure the effects of environmental perturbations. In this review, I discuss the concept of plant stress and phenotypic plasticity connecting both to the generation of an asymmetry phenotype, highlighting the usefulness of FA as an indicator of the level of stress which the organism is subjected to. Further, although this review explores mainly the connection between FA and stress in plants, the ecological context of symmetry in animals and plant-insect interaction is also discussed. Finally, I provided some methodologies used to detect symmetry variations in organs or organisms with bilateral structure.

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The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Cite this paper

Daloso, D. (2014) The ecological context of bilateral symmetry of organ and organisms. Natural Science, 6, 184-190. doi: 10.4236/ns.2014.64022.


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