|Turtlegrass flowering shoot ©Dawn Witherington|
November 20, 2016
Past the sandy beaches and rocky shores, beneath the lapping of breaking waves, coasts around the world are (were) carpeted with green underwater meadows of seagrasses. Contrary to what you may be thinking, seagrasses are not a form of seaweed or even vaguely related, though they do often co-occur. Seagrasses are in fact angiosperms, flowering plants whose ancestors adapted to life in salt water back when dinosaurs roamed on land. Is anybody else picturing an plesiosaur gliding over a bed of seagrass? The ancestors of seagrasses took many biochemical and physical shifts in order to adapt to a wet and salty lifestyle. However, amazingly, an important feature that seagrasses have retained despite millions of years of evolution under the sea is their ability to flower.