World’s largest plant is a vast seagrass meadow in Australia | Loop Jamaica

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Scientists have discovered the world’s largest plant off the Australian coast — a seagrass meadow that has grown by repeatedly cloning itself.

Genetic analysis has revealed that the underwater fields of waving green seagrass are a single organism covering 70 square miles (180 square kilometres) through making copies of itself over 4,500 years.

The research was published on Wednesday in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

This photo provided by The University Of Western Australia shows part of the Posidonia australis seagrass meadow at Peron Peninsula in Australia’s Shark Bay. (Photo: Angela Rossen/The University Of Western Australia via AP)

Scientists confirmed that the meadow was a single organism by sampling and comparing the DNA of seagrass shoots across the bed, wrote Jane Edgeloe, a study co-author and marine biologist at the University of Western Australia.

A variety of plants and some animals can reproduce asexually.

There are disadvantages to being clones of a single organism — such as increased susceptibility to diseases — but “the process can create ‘hopeful monsters” by enabling rapid growth, the researchers wrote.

This June 2022 photo shows sampling efforts of the Posidonia australis seagrass meadow in Australia’s Shark Bay. (Photo: Rachel Austin/The University Of Western Australia via AP)

According to a report released on Wednesday, June 1, 2022, genetic analysis has revealed that the underwater fields of waving green seagrass are a single organism covering 70 square miles (180 square kilometres) through making copies of itself over 4,500 years. This photo shows part of the Posidonia australis seagrass meadow in Australia’s Shark Bay. (Photo: Sahira Bell/The University Of Western Australia via AP)

The scientists call the meadow of Poseidon’s ribbon weed “the most [widely] known clone on Earth,” covering an area larger than Washington.

Though the seagrass meadow is immense, it’s vulnerable. A decade ago, the seagrass covered an additional seven square miles, but cyclones and rising ocean temperatures linked to climate change have recently killed almost a tenth of the ancient seagrass bed.

By Christina Larson