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Oldest Living Organism, Seagrass Threatened by Climate Change

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By Brittney R. Villalva, Christian Post Reporter
February 7, 2012|1:56 pm

Scientists have concluded that seaweed stretching the span of over nine miles in the Mediterranean Sea could be the oldest living organism on earth. The new discovery could prompt more support for research that supports changing weather climates.

Seaweed, which reproduces through a method of cloning, can grow for a number of miles creating what scientists refer to as meadows. A meadow is created by all pieces of seaweed being genetically the same. A meadow of posidonia, seaweed that was DNA tested by Australian researchers at the University of Western Australia in Perth, could possibly the oldest living organism on earth according to new research.

A researcher at the university, Carlos Duarte, stated that one meadow of posidonia found, off the island of Formentera near Spain, stretched the span of nearly nine miles.

UPI Science News reported that "given the plant's annual growth rate the researchers said they calculated the Formentera meadow must be between 80,000 and 200,000 years old, making it the oldest living organism on Earth.

Duarte explained the seaweed's ability for longevity in the journal PLos ONE.

"They are continually producing new branches," he said. "They spread very slowly and cover a very large area giving them more area to mine resources. They can then store nutrients within their very large branches during bad conditions for growth."

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However, the newly announced oldest living organism could draw attention to an issue that many are still skeptical about- global warming.

"The seagrass in the Mediterranean is already in clear decline due to shoreline construction and declining water quality and this decline has been exacerbated by climate change. As the water warms, the organisms move slowly to higher altitudes," Duarte explained. "The Mediterranean is locked to the north by the European continent. They cannot move. The outlook is very bad."

 

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