Eelgrass, one of the most abundant plants in the ocean, originated in Japan before spreading around the globe. Now, scientists have shed light on both when and how eelgrass adapted and evolved throughout its history.
Their research, published in August 2023 in Nature Plants, was able to assess absolute time estimates for major colonization events. It was previously assumed, due to the wide and varied geographic footprint of the plant, that eelgrass began colonizing the oceans about 3 million years ago. The study shows that figure is likely closer to a mere 250,000 years — with many key colonization events in the Atlantic ocean occurring within the last 40,000 years. Learn more on the JGI’s website.