Don't like to read?
Posidonia australis stretching 112 miles (or 180 kilometers) also known as seagrass, has been named Earth’s biggest underwater plant. Located in flat Australian waters off the western coast. Scientists at first believed the winding seagrass was an enormous meadow. The discovery was made in Shark Bay, an area that is protected as a World Heritage Location, according to senior researcher Elizabeth Sinclair at the School of Biological Sciences and Oceans Institute of The University of Western Australia. Reached a distance of about the length of Los Angeles and San Diego. The distance is estimated to be to reach 77sq miles (200sq km) Making up Manhattan Island over three times or is almost larger than Glasgow’s city or nearly the size of 20,000 fields for rugby.
Cloning, or creating genetically identical outgrowths of itself is the essential reason why the plant is able to reach such lengths. In the animal kingdom, this process is not often seen. It is more common in environments that support life such as plants, bacteria, and fungi. It’s believed by experts that the plant’s origins started with a singular seed approximately 4,500 years ago and are continuing to grow. The plant is the only clone of Posidonia australis seagrass according to researchers the 111.847 miles (180km) length plant is currently the largest known cloning example in any environment on the planet.
The common belief is that the Polypoid clone first developed 8,500 years ago that expanded in newly submerged habitats. Scientists made this discovery completely accidentally.
During genetic testing, scientists came into contact with the plant. What was first thought of as simply a giant seagrass meadow was actually only a single massive P australis Polyploid clone. “Individual seagrass clones may persist almost indefinitely if left undisturbed, as they rely on vegetative, horizontal rhizome expansion, rather than sexual reproduction,” Sinclair said.
“We were quite surprised when we had a good look at the data and it seemed to indicate that everything belonged to the one plant,” evolutionary biologist and study co-author Elizabeth Sinclair, from the University of Western Australia, told ABC Australia.
Of course, ocean life is at risk of climate change such as corals, seagrass, and meadows. Heatwaves in 2010 as well as in 2011, sparked serve damage to Meadows in Shark bay killing about a third of seagrasses. Many underwater species call these places home and damages such as these put wildlife at risk as the area is rich in its biodiversity “It’s scary because we might lose it before we find out about it,” Sinclair said. “It might be gone before we even know.”
Written by Skye Leon
CNN: World’s largest plant discovered in Australia; By Katie Hunt
Independent: Researchers find world’s largest plant in Australia after mistaking it for giant underwater meadow; by Stuti Mishra
HuffPost: Scientists Find World’s Largest Plant In Australia; by Nick Visser