Monday, February 20, 2012

Oldest living clone

I mentioned that some clonal organisms may be older than the Bristlecone pines, or at least have occupied the same location continuously for longer. Everyone loves a record breaker so a paper in PLoSONE suggesting that patches of seagrass in the Mediterranean may be up to 200,000 years old got a fair bit of press coverage. The future may not be so bright for these clones though:

This further supports the hypothesis of phenotypic plasticity associated with large clonal size and old age. Nevertheless, even though such phenotypic plasticity possibly evolved across millennia, it may well be challenged by the unprecedented rate of environmental change imposed by current global climate change, including temperature increase and ocean acidification, and recent anthropogenic pressure on coastal areas resulting in changes in water quality, eutrophication, and nutrient load, particularly in seagrass meadows.

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