Scientists have identified what they define as the largest plant in the world – a type of seagrass that stretches about 180 kilometers off the coast of Western Australia, the DPA reported.
Australian researchers have noticed a “clone” of Posidonia australis seagrass in the shallow waters of Shark Bay, according to a publication in the Proceedings of the Royal Society.
The discovery is the work of experts from the universities of Western Australia and Flinders.
They studied how many different species thrive in seagrass meadows in Shark Bay, 831 kilometers north of Perth, when genetic tests showed it was a single plant. It is believed to be at least 4,500 years old.
Lead author of the study Jane Edgelow of the University of Western Australia says the team took samples of seagrass shoots from different parts of the bay for research.
“Only one plant has spread over 180 km in the Gulf of Sharks, making it the largest known plant on Earth,” she said. “The answer struck us.”
According to Edgelow, the existing 200 square kilometers of meadows have been expanded by a single colonizing seedling.
Co-author Martin Breed of Flinders University says the plant has no sex. “How it has survived and thrived for so long is really puzzling. Asexual plants also tend to have the reduced genetic diversity they usually need when dealing with environmental change,” he said.