A great scientific discovery was made in Australia, since on the southern coast of the island, in the area of Shark Bay, it was possible to determine the size of the largest plant found so far in the world, Posidonia australisalso known as fiberball grass or ribbon grass.
The plant has a magnitude of 200 square kilometers, which is equivalent to three times the size of Manhattan Island.
Student researcher Jane Edgeloe, from the University of Western Australia (UWA), said around 18,000 genetic markers were examined while looking for variations in the species, but what they found instead was that the same plant had spread using rhizomes from the same way a lawn can spread from its edges by sending out runners.
“The existing 200 square kilometers of ribbon weed meadows appear to have expanded from a single colonizing seedling,” he said.
The rhizomes of ribbon weeds can grow up to 35 cm per year and, using that rate, the authors of the investigationpublished in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, estimate that the plant will have needed at least 4,500 years to spread as far as it has.
Conditions in Shark Bay are challenging. The plant has found a way to survive in areas where salinity is twice that of other parts of the bay, and can thrive in water temperatures as cold as 15°C and as hot as 30°C.