Living for 200,000 years is an accomplishment few can claim a trophy for; I should say that the trophy didn’t even exist until now. But one plant species has managed the seemingly impossible by proving to scientists that it can be done. You just need to work a little trickery with your DNA.
Posidonia oceanic, a giant sea grass that grows in submerged meadows from Spain to Cyprus, has topped the charts as the world’s oldest living organism through vegetative cloning. Rather than seeding itself, the plant reproduces by continuing to grow genetically identical offshoots, which live on while older growth inevitably dies off. In doing this, Posidonia can claim a lifespan of hundreds of millennia.
The previous record holder, a Tasmanian plant known as King’s Lomatia (Lomatia tasmanica), has a single remaining colony estimated at up to 45,000 years old. It “reproduces” in the same fashion. —MN