Scientists from the University of Western Australia have discovered that seagrass is the oldest living thing on the Earth.
The scientists analysed 40 meadows across 3,500 kilometres of the Mediterranean Sea. They discovered that seagrass could be more than 100,000 years old.
They also found that giant seagrass, also known as Posidonia oceanica, could asexually reproduce itself. In other words, it can clone itself. Seagrass can span up to 15 kilometres wide and it is more than 6,000 metric tonnes in mass.
During the research, they used computer models to demonstrate that the clonal spread mode of the seagrass and they found it can reproduce both sexually and asexually. Even after several years, they found that clones are highly-competent just like its ancestors, whereas most competent genotypes of organisms that can only reproduce sexually are lost at every generation.
Seagrasses are the foundation of key coastal ecosystems but have waned globally for the past 20 years. They are now declining at an estimated rate of five per cent annually.
"Clonal organisms have an extraordinary capacity to transmit only 'highly competent' genomes, through generations, with potentially no end," said Professor Carlos Duarte, Director of University of Western Australia's Oceans Institute.
"Understanding why those particular genomes have been so adaptable to a broad range of environmental conditions for so long is the key to some interesting future research."
"The concern is that while posidonia oceanica meadows have thrived for millennia, their current decline suggests they may no longer be able to adapt to the unprecedented rate of global climate change." he said.