Seagrass has been discovered off the coast of Australia and has now been confirmed to be the largest plant on earth.
The plant, also known as ribbon weed, was found in Shark Bay, about 800 kilometres from Perth.
According to researchers from the University of Western Australia, the seagrass covers 200 square kilometres. Through genetic testing, the researchers determined that the large underwater meadow is one plant and not several smaller plants as first estimated.
The aim of the tests was to understand the genetic diversity of the species. Researchers collected shoots from across the bay and examined 18 000 genetic markers to create a fingerprint from each sample, reports the BBC.
Jane Edgeloe, the study’s lead author, shared the team of researchers’ surprise when they discovered that the meadow doesn’t consist of several plants, but only one plant.
“The answer blew us away, there was just one! That’s it, just one plant has expanded over 180 kilometres, making it the largest known plant on Earth.”
The plant “appears to be really resilient, experiencing a wide range of temperatures and salinities plus extreme high light conditions, which together would typically be highly stressful for most plants,” said Doctor Elizabeth Sinclair, one of the researchers told the BBC.
Image credit: CNN