Off the coast of Australia, researchers have made a remarkable discovery of the world’s largest plant, which has been determined to be 4,500 years old.
The natural world, especially that hidden under water, still hides many secrets and constantly surprises us when it reveals another one. This time a wonderful discovery has been made by scientists from Australia, and it is the world’s largest plant.
The remarkable discovery by researchers at the University of Western Australia is the largest plant known to man, measuring almost 200 square kilometres. What’s more, the researchers found that it grew from a single seed and is at least 4,500 years old.
At first glance, this unusual specimen is an underwater meadow that does not stand out. However, thanks to genetic research, specialists have determined that the entire giant meadow in Western Australia is a single plant.
The seagrass meadow also known as ribbon weed is located in Shark Bay. This is a relatively shallow bay in the Indian Ocean that is about 800km north of Perth. Scientists from the University of Western Australia came here to study the genetic diversity of this species. In total, they took as many as 18,000 genetic markers from across the meadow, but to their surprise they discovered that they all belonged to the same organism.
The researchers were particularly surprised by the fact that Shark Bay has very different conditions. Despite this, the plant did very well in each location.
It seems really resilient, experiencing a wide range of temperatures and salinities and extreme light conditions. This would be extremely stressful for most plants – Dr Elizabeth Sinclair said.
Ribbon weed typically grows like a normal lawn at a rate of up to 35cm per year. The researchers thus estimated that it took 4,500 years for it to reach its current size. The team published their findings in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Photo by Rachel Austin/University of Western Australia.
If you want to get to know these wonderful creatures better, you have to read the article by Małgorzata Sobońska. Her text about Humbacks can be found in the 17th issue the DIVERS24 quarterly magazine! The digital version of the magazine is available free of charge, while the printed version you can buy in our online shop.
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