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Daily and infradian rhythms of circumnutation intensity in Helianthus annuus


  • Edited by D. Van Der Straeten

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Circumnutation in Helianthus annuus L. was investigated by measurements lasting 4–7 weeks using a picture analysis system. The rhythmicity of circumnutation vigour (intensity) with regard to the trajectory length and period of individual circumnutations were examined. Three photoperiod conditions were applied [light/dark (LD), continuous light (LL) and LD followed by LL]. Data were processed by the Fourier analysis. Statistical analysis included the examination of circumnutation mean frequencies and correlation tests. Both parameters, trajectory length and period, revealed a daily (24 h) modulation in LD with a weak correlation between them, whereas in LL no daily modulation of the parameters was observed. After LD–LL transition, the parameters were gradually losing their daily modulation. Despite a very strong modulation of the trajectory length in LD, the period was quite stable in all groups tested, but only in LD were there no statistical differences in the number of circumnutations per 24 h among the plants studied. LD was concluded to be the strong synchronizer, making the plants circumnutate regularly. Regardless of the presence or absence of daily modulation, the infradian (several and more days long) harmonics of the trajectory length were the same in each group. These findings strongly support the view that circumnutation in sunflower, widely known as an ultradian rhythm, also possesses daily and infradian modulations of its intensity. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first report of circumnutation that was obtained by a picture analysis system in such a large timescale.