Volume 14, Issue 1, 2014 January-March

Volume 14, No 1 Pages:
2014 January-March Articles: 5

What had malaria wrought me

Shakespeare, yes, a close relation of mine, being of member of the same family Hominidae. For that matter you are too. I find it quite amusing that when some writers mention someone of the same surname to theirs, but not directly related in a family tree, as ‘no relation’. Biologically speaking we are all closely related (99.99% genetic similarity). Chimpanzees are our first cousins, and bacteria a bit distant. Calling someone ‘no relation’ is a bit harsh and somewhat a denial of the universal tree of life.

The making of modern malariology: from miasma to mosquito-malaria theory

The history of medicine teaches us that understanding the principle and natural origin of diseases is key to their effective management. Ancient Greek and Roman physicians abandoned supernatural interventions, as previously believed to be the sources of diseases, and instead expounded a theory of natural cause called miasma. Malaria (the very word meaning ‘bad air’) is the archetype, and is the most vicious of them all, then and thereafter, in the entire history of humankind. The search for its origin and transmission was as old as the miasma theory itself. Some rays of light dawned during the Italian the Renaissance from Girolamo Fracastoro in the form of contagion theory, but its true nature was as enigmatic as ever. The Pandora’s box of dilemmas was closed only on the closing of the 19th century CE. Yielding no medical enlightenment after a good two millennia, the miasma theory was confronted by the fledgling germ theory, and finally subjugated by the mosquito-malaria theory. The epoch-making discoveries came from two army physicians, Alphonse Laveran in Africa, who discovered the malarial parasite, and Ronald Ross in India, who discovered the mode of transmission. The saga is classic in the annals of science where theories are tested and falsified, and the one with the most credible and durable evidence survives, in spite of the odds and authoritative hostilities.

Geochemical study on Upper Bhuban shale in Aizawl district of Mizoram, India: an implication of chemical weathering, geochemical classification, tectonic setting and provenance

Shales from the Upper Bhuban formation in the Muthi, Aizawl district, was analysed for major, trace and rare earth elements. These elements are competent alternative for determining lithological composition, geochemical classification, provenance and tectonic setting of the basin. It shows high content of SiO2 varies from 62.85 wt% to 73.22 wt% and a small variation in Al2O3 (14.22–19.61 wt%). The average of K2O/Al2O3 ratio vary from 0.15 to 0.22 with the average value of 0.18 which are close to the upper limit of the clay mineral range indicated that the illite is the dominant clay mineral in these shales. The value of chemical index alteration in the Muthi shale is high (75.10 to 81.77) indicating high intensity of chemical weathering in the source areas. The Muthi shales are classified as litharenite. Th/Sc, Th/Co, Th/Cr, Cr/Th, and La/Sc ratios of shales from this study are compared with those of sediments derived from felsic and basic rocks (fine fraction) as well as to upper continental crust (UCC) and PAAS values. This comparison suggested that these ratios are within the range of felsic rocks. Furthermore, it shows slightly LREE enriched and flat HREE patterns with negative Eu anomalies 0.65 (average). The (Gd/Yb)N ratio 2.47 (average) of Muthi shale is higher than 2 which suggested that these shales were derived from the large HREE depleted source rocks.

Status of ornamental fish diversity of Sonkosh River, Bodoland Territorial Council, Assam, India

Extensive survey for ornamental fishes of Sonkosh River was conducted from April, 2012 to March, 2013. The River Sonkosh is located in the western part of Kokrajhar District of Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) area, a tributary of the Brahmaputra River in north-west bank. During the survey period, a total of 49 ornamental fish species were identified belonging to 34 genera, 18 families and 6 orders. Cyprinidae family represented the maximum number of species (18) followed by the family Channidae (5), Cobitidae (4), Siluridae (3), Amblycipitidae (3), Balitoridae, Nandidae, Badidae and Belontiidae (2 species each) and Notopteridae, Schilbeidae, Olyridae, Chacidae, Mastacembelidae, Chandidae, Osphronemidae, Gobiidae and Tetraodontidae (1 species each). The study shows that 1 species belongs to endangered category, 3 species near threatened, 1 species vulnerable, 32 species least concern, 3 species data deficient and 6 species not evaluated according to IUCN status, 2013.

Effect of different mulberry plant varieties on growth and economic parameters of the silkworm Bombyx mori in Mizoram

Three varieties of commonly used mulberry leaves (V1, Local, S1635) were fed to the Bombyx mori larvae [Bivoltine double hybrid – (AP71 x AP9)(AP72 x AP8)] and their influence on the larval weight, filament length and larval protein content was studied under natural conditions in Mizoram. The mean weight of larvae, pupae, cocoon and shell as well as cocoon shell ratio and larval protein content of B. mori were increased when fed with S1635. In addition, the filament length produced by this silkworm in response to S1635 showed significant increase with respect to the other two varieties. Positive correlation was observed in filament length against protein content. The overall performance of B. mori in terms of growth and economic parameters was significantly improved with S1635 and this variety has the potential to enhance the commercial qualities of silk. Therefore, it is suggested to be used in sericulture for higher yield of silk.

Preliminary assessment on water quality and biodiversity in and around Palak Dil in southern Mizoram, India

The present study was conducted during March to September 2013 at Palak Dil, the largest lake in Mizoram, which is located between 92°52’-92°55’E longitude and 22°10’-22°13’N latitude in the remote part of Mara Autonomous District Council in the southern part of Mizoram near the border of Indo-Burma hotspots region. The Palak Dil is a nationally recognized natural lake and the catchment area is approximately 18.5 sq km and the total water body is around 1.5 sq km only. The water quality, viz. temperature, pH, total dissolved solids, electrical conductivity, acidity, alkalinity, dissolved oxygen, biological oxygen demand, carbon dioxide, total hardness, chloride, nitrate, phosphate and iron were analyzed and found that all the parameters are within the standard limits given by various scientific agencies, but the water is not pure as expected. This can be accrued to the developmental works that were undergoing around the lake. Study on biodiversity was carried out by field enumeration, collection and identification of the flora and fauna. It was observed that the ecosystem in which birds and animals living there is gradually degrading due to anthropogenic activity and developmental works.

Soil carbon pools of bamboo forests of Mizoram, India

Soil carbon is an important aspect of soil fertility and represents a major reservoir of terrestrial carbon pool globally. The amount of soil carbon was estimated in bamboo forests of five administrative districts which account for more than 80% of the bamboo growing areas of Mizoram. The soil carbon pool of the study area ranged from 51.914 Mg ha-1 to 84.2352 Mg ha-1. Maximum soil carbon pool, 84.2352 Mg ha-1 was recorded in Mamit district and minimum in Serchhip district (51.914 Mg ha-1). The major differences in soil carbon pool in different districts of Mizoram may be attributed to the local habitat quality and climatic conditions.

Terminator gene technology – their mechanism and consequences

The terminator technology is a genetically engineered suicide mechanism that can be triggered off by specific external stimuli. The preferred trigger is antibiotic tetracycline, which is applied to seeds. As a result of which the seeds of the next generation will self-destruct by auto-poisoning. The main version of the terminator includes a set of three novel genes inserted into one plant. However, there is another version, which divides two or three genes on to two plants that are later to be cross-pollinated. The ultimate outcome is a dead seed in the following generation. Many consider terminator technology a problem due to the fact that the top 10 largest seed companies globally control half the world’s commercial seed market. Therefore, if terminator technology is commercialized, corporations will most likely try to incorporate this technology into all of their seeds. This would secure a much stronger monopoly on the seed market compared to patents because this technology would ensure that it is impossible for farmers to re-use their once harvested seeds.