Largest-known plant, 4,500-years-old, discovered in Western Australia

The seagrass is called Posidonia australis which is located in the waters of the World Heritage Area of Shark Bay, Western Australia.

 Posidonia australis - threatened populations, June 4, 2014. (photo credit: John Turnbull/Flicker)
Posidonia australis - threatened populations, June 4, 2014.
(photo credit: John Turnbull/Flicker)

An ancient seagrass believed to be 4,500-years-old was discovered by researchers from Flinders University and The University of Western Australia last week.

Publishing their research in The Royal Society Journal, the researchers involved believing it to be the largest plant in the world, stretching across approximately 180 kilometers (112 miles).

The seagrass is called Posidonia australis which is located in the waters of the World Heritage Area of Shark Bay, Western Australia.

The research team sampled seagrass shoots from across Shark Bay's variable environments. Using 18,000 genetic markers, the plant generated one single "fingerprint."

Posidonia australis uniqueness

What makes this Posidonia australis unique is that in addition to its size, the chromosomes it contains are twice as much as its "oceanic relatives," according to evolutionary biologist Dr. Elizabeth Sinclair, a senior author of the study.

 Winthrop Hall at sunset, University of Western Australia, Crawley, Western Australia. (credit: Greg O'Beirne/Wikimedia commons) Winthrop Hall at sunset, University of Western Australia, Crawley, Western Australia. (credit: Greg O'Beirne/Wikimedia commons)

The natural habitat of Plants similar to Posidonia australis is often in areas with extreme environmental conditions, in addition, these plants are often sterile but can continue to grow if left undisturbed, and this giant seagrass has done just that.

“Even without successful flowering and seed production," the rea the plant seems to be extremely resilient, surviving high levels of salinity, high temperatures and extreme light conditions, which altogether will make it very difficult for most plants to grow.