Circumnutation, the helical movement of growing organ tips, is ubiquitous in land plants. The mechanisms underlying circumnutation have been debated since Darwin's time. Experiments in space and mutant analyses have revealed that internal oscillatory (tropism-independent) movement and gravitropic response are involved in circumnutation. Female flower buds of tape grass (Vallisneria asiatica var. biwaensis) circumnutate on the water surface. Our observations and experiments with an artificial model indicated that gravitropism is barely involved in circumnutation. Instead, we show that helical intercalary growth at the base of peduncle plays the primary role in all movements in Vallisneria. This growth pattern produces torsional bud rotation, and gravity and buoyancy forces have a physical effect on the direction of peduncle elongation, resulting in bud circumnutation on the water surface. In contrast to other water-pollinated hydrophilous plants, circumnutation in Vallisneria enables female flowers to actively collect male flowers from a larger surface area of water.
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