Sex plays a much more important role in the reproduction of vitally important seagrasses than previously thought, according to researchers from The University of Western Australia.
Their work is a major re-think of the way seagrass populations spread and is regarded as critically important to help conserve and restore endangered seagrasses meadows.
Lead author Winthrop Professor Gary Kendrick, of UWA’s Oceans Institute and the University’s School of Plant Biology, said healthy seagrass populations were extremely important for coastal stability and carbon sequestration.
Seagrass meadows grew predominately via vegetative growth or cloning, using rhizomes that spread under the seabed, then sent out roots and shoots.
But the researchers found that seagrasses also relied a great deal on sexual reproduction involving male and female flowers, pollen, seeds and seedlings.
Seeds could travel hundreds of kilometres in the water to grow new, genetically identical seagrass meadows a long way form the original colony.