Mountains of sugar have been discovered beneath seagrass meadows all across the world, according to scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology. Seagrass meadows are one of the most efficient carbon-capture ecosystems on the planet.
According to the institute, seagrass stores nearly twice as much carbon as land-based trees and does so 35 times faster. When the seabed around these meadows was examined, enormous amounts of sugar were discovered in their soil systems.
The vast amounts of sugar are around 80 times more than previously measured in marine habitats, according to Manuel Liebeke, the head of the research group conducting the study at the institute.
“To put this into perspective: We estimate that worldwide there are between 0.6 and 1.3 million tons of sugar, mainly in the form of sucrose, in the seagrass rhizosphere…That is roughly comparable to the amount of sugar in 32 billion cans of coke!” he said.
Seagrass meadows are one of the most endangered environments on the planet, despite the fact that this is a brand-new discovery. They are fast disappearing in all oceans, according to the institution, with up to a third of the world’s seagrass already destroyed.
“Looking at how much blue carbon, or carbon captured by the world’s ocean and coastal ecosystems, is lost when seagrass communities are decimated, our research clearly shows: It is not only the seagrass itself but also the large amounts of sucrose beneath live seagrasses that would result in a loss of stored carbon,” Mr. Liebke explains.
“Our calculations reveal that if bacteria destroyed the sucrose in the seagrass rhizosphere, at least 1.54 million tonnes of sugar would be released.”