The aim of this work is to understand the physics underlying the mechanisms of two-dimensional aquatic pollen dispersal, known as hydrophily, that have evolved in several genera of aquatic plants, including Halodule, Halophila, Lepilaena, and Ruppia. We selected Ruppia maritima, which is native to salt and brackish waters circumglobally, for this study. We observed two mechanisms by which the pollen released from male inflorescences of Ruppia is adsorbed on a water surface: 1) inflorescences rise above the water surface and after they mature their pollen mass falls onto the surface as clumps and disperses as it comes in contact with the surface; 2) inflorescences remain below the surface and produce air bubbles which carry pollen mass to the surface where it disperses. In both cases dispersed pollen masses combined with others under the action of lateral capillary forces to form pollen rafts. The formation of porous pollen rafts increases the probability of pollination since the attractive capillary force on a pollen raft toward a stigma is much larger than on a single pollen grain. The presence of a trace amount of surfactant can disrupt the pollination process as the pollen is not captured or transported on the water surface.

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