July 4, 2022
The world's largest plant has just been discovered, which has just been discovered in Australia

The world’s largest plant has just been discovered, which has just been discovered in Australia

Researchers say seaweed covers an area of ​​about 20,000 football fields

Photo: Rachel Austin/BBC News Brazil

Off the coast of Australia, the largest known plant on Earth has been discovered – a seaweed that occupies an area equal to half of Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro.

Scientists have discovered through genetic testing that a vast underwater meadow in Western Australia is actually a single plant. It is believed to have originated from a single seed at least 4,500 years ago.

The seagrass has an area of ​​about 200 square kilometres, according to researchers at the University of Western Australia. The team made the accidental discovery in Shark Bay, 800 km north of Perth.

Researchers sought to understand the genetic diversity of species (Posidonia australis), which can be easily found in many parts of the Australian coast. They collected buds along the bay and screened 18,000 genetic markers to create a “fingerprint” for each sample. His intention was to find out how many plants the meadow was made of.

“The result surprised us—it was just one!” says Jane Idjello, lead study author. “Yes, only one factory was expanded over 180 kilometers in Shark Bay, until it became the largest known factory on Earth.”

Aerial view of the factory in Shark Bay, Western Australia

Aerial view of the factory in Shark Bay, Western Australia

Photo: Angela Rosin/BBC News Brazil

The plant is also distinguished by its hardiness, as it was grown in locations along the bay in completely different conditions.

“They appear to be very resistant, facing a wide range of temperatures and salinities, as well as very high light conditions, which together result in significant stress for most plants,” says Elizabeth Sinclair, one of the researchers.

This species usually grows as a herb about 35 cm per year. So the researchers estimated that it took 4,500 years to expand to its current size.

The research has been published in the British journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.