A patch of seagrass on the Australian coast has been spreading on the seabed for 4,500 years and is currently the largest organism in the world, researchers say.
It seems that the herbarium is a hybrid between the existing banded and a still unknown species. The herbarium is probably doing so well because it clones itself rather than reproducing sexually.
The discovery was quite surprising, as scientists had just taken samples from seagrass species to examine genetic variation. This was quite disappointing, because of the 10 locations where the samples were taken, 9 were genetically the same.
The herbarium field of a total of 200 square kilometers must have started with one and the same plant. So does a not so different and equally huge organism: a network of about 40,000 aspens in Utah.
Normally, having little genetic variation is not exactly conducive to the survival of a species. The cloned herbarium deposit therefore raises all sorts of new questions that will no doubt occupy us for years to come.
Read more: World’s largest organism discovered underwater†
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