Seagrasses boost ecosystem health by fighting bad bacteria | Science News



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Seagrasses boost ecosystem health by fighting bad bacteria

Underwater meadows of flowering plants clean oceans near island shores

2:00pm, February 16, 2017

NATURAL CLEANERS  Seagrasses, flowering plants that grow in shallow seas, can decrease bacterial contamination in the surrounding water.

BOSTON — For a lawn that helps the environment — and doesn’t need to be mowed — look to the ocean. Meadows of underwater seagrass plants might lower levels of harmful bacteria in nearby ocean waters, researchers reported February 16 during a news conference at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. That could make the whole ecosystem — from corals to fish to humans — healthier.

Not truly a grass, seagrasses are flowering plants with long, narrow leaves. They grow in shallow ocean water, spreading into vast underwater lawns. Seagrasses are “a marine powerhouse, almost equal to the rainforest. They’re one of the largest stores of carbon in the ocean,” says study coauthor Joleah Lamb, an ecologist at Cornell University. “But they don’t get a lot of attention.”


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