World's largest plant discovered in Australia

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The world’s largest living plant has been identified in the shallow waters off the coast of Western Australia, secondo gli scienziati.

The sprawling seagrass, a marine flowering plant known as Posidonia australis, stretches for more than 112 miglia (180 chilometri) in Shark Bay, a wilderness area protected as a World Heritage site, said Elizabeth Sinclair, a senior research fellow at the School of Biological Sciences and Oceans Institute at The University of Western Australia.
That’s about the distance between San Diego and Los Angeles.
    The plant is so large because it clones itself, creating genetically identical offshoots. This process is a way of reproducing that is rare in the animal kingdom although it happens in certain environmental conditions and occurs more often among some plants, fungi and bacteria.
      We often get asked how many different plants are growing in a seagrass meadow. Here we used genetic tools to answer it,” said Sinclair, the author of a study on the seagrass that published late Tuesday in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
        The answer definitely surprised usjust ONE! Questo è tutto, just one plant has expanded over 180 km in Shark Bay, making it the largest known plant on Earth,” ha detto via e-mail.
        An aerial image of Shark Bay, including the seagrass, which appear as dark patches in the water.

        Sinclair and her colleagues took samples from 10 locations across the range of the seagrass meadow in Shark Bay in 2012 e 2019. The research team also measured the environmental conditions including depth, water temperature and salinity.
          We have been studying cool water seagrasses in southern Australia for a while, to understand how much genetic diversity is in them and how connected the meadows are,” Ha detto Sinclair.
          The scientists were able to sequence DNA from the seagrass samples, quale revealed that it was a single plant.
          The plant has been able to continue growing through vegetative growthextending its rhizomes (rootstalks) outwardsthe way a buffalo grass would in your back garden, extending runners outwards. The only difference is that the seagrass rhizomes are under a sandy seafloor so you don’t see them, just the shoots within the water column,” lei disse.
          What was even more interesting was that it has double the number of chromosomes than in other populations we had been studying. Esso ha 40, not the usual 20,” lei ha aggiunto.
          Seagrasses inhabit marine coastlines and estuaries globally.
          The study suggested that reproducing via cloning helped the seagrass meadow adapt to habitat conditions that were more extreme than where seagrass is usually foundsaltier water, high levels of light and wide temperature fluctuations.
          The seagrass meadow covered almost 200 chilometri quadrati (77 square miles or 49,000 acri), Ha detto Sinclair — bigger than Brooklyn. That’s a much larger area than the Pando quaking Aspen trees in Utah, which are often described as the world’s largest plant. The clone spreads over 106 acri, consisting of over 40,000 individual trees, secondo the USDA Forest Service.
            a circa 4,500 Anni, the Shark Bay seagrass is ancient, but its age isn’t record-breaking, i ricercatori hanno detto. UN Posidonia oceanica plant discovered in the western Mediterranean that spans up to 9.3 miglia (15 chilometri) may be greater than 100,000 Anni.
            Individual seagrass clones may persist almost indefinitely if left undisturbed, as they rely on vegetative, horizontal rhizome expansion, rather than sexual reproduction,” Ha detto Sinclair.

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