Fluctuating Asymmetry of Plant Leaves: Batch Processing with LAMINA and Continuous Symmetry Measures

John H Graham, Mattie J Whitesell, Mark Fleming II, Hagit Hel-Or, Eviatar Nevo, Shmuel Raz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Unlike landmark methods for estimating object asymmetry, continuous symmetry measures (CSM) can be used to measure the symmetry distance (ds) of inconsistent objects, such as plant leaves. Inconsistent objects have no homologous landmarks, no consistent topology, no quantitative consistency, and sometimes no matching points. When CSM is used in conjugation with LAMINA Leaf Shape Determination software, one can quickly and efficiently process a large number of scanned leaves. LAMINA automatically generates equally-spaced points around the perimeter of each leaf and the resulting x-y coordinates are normalized to average centroid size prior to estimating ds using a fold, average, unfold algorithm. We estimated shape asymmetry of leaves of three species of flowering plants: Ligustrum sinense (Chinese Privet), Rubus cuneifolius (blackberry), and Perilla frutescens (Perilla), as well as individual leaves from a few species of oaks (Quercus) and maples (Acer). We found that 100 to 200 equally-spaced points worked well for all three of the main species. Measurement error accounted for a small proportion of the asymmetry variation. Nevertheless, measurement error was great enough to generate some negative size scaling after normalization to average centroid size.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-268
Number of pages14
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015


  • LAMINA software
  • Sciences: Comprehensive Works
  • continuous symmetry measure
  • fluctuating asymmetry
  • plant leaves
  • shape asymmetry
  • shape asymmetry continuous symmetry measure


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