- The new type of photosynthesis discovered
- The vast majority of life on Earth uses visible red light in the process of photosynthesis, but the new type uses near-infrared light instead.
- It was detected in a wide range of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) when they grow in near-infrared light, found in shaded conditions like bacterial mats in Yellowstone and in beach rock in Australia.
- Plants and some bacteria use a process called photosynthesis to create sugars from carbon dioxide and water, which they use as a power source.
Photosynthesis beyond the red limit
- The standard, near-universal type of photosynthesis uses the green pigment, chlorophyll-a, both to collect light and use its energy to make useful biochemicals and oxygen.
- Chlorophyll-a is present in all plants, as well as algae and photosynthetic bacteria, and scientists long assumed that there was a “red limit” on photosynthesis.
- Astrobiologists have used this supposed limit to gauge whether complex life could be evolving on distant planets in other solar systems.
- However, some photosynthetic bacteria known as cyanobacteria have another trick up their microscopic sleeves.
- Researchers found another form of chlorophyll working in communities of these creatures growing in shaded conditions in “bacterial mats” in Yellowstone National Park and inside rocks found on Australian beaches.
- In the near-infrared light, the chlorophyll-a systems of these bacteria shut down and a different variety – chlorophyll-f – begins operating in lower energy conditions “beyond the red limit”.
- Until now, it was thought that chlorophyll-f just harvested the light.
- Another cyanobacterium, Acaryochloris, is already known to do photosynthesis beyond the red limit.
- However, because it occurs in just this one species, with a very specific habitat, it had been considered a ‘one-off’.
- Acaryochloris lives underneath a green sea-squirt that shades out most of the visible light leaving just the near-infrared.
- The chlorophyll-f based photosynthesis reported represents a third type of photosynthesis that is widespread.
- However, it is only used in special infrared-rich shaded conditions; in normal light conditions, the standard red form of photosynthesis is used.
- These insights could be useful for researchers trying to engineer crops to perform more efficient photosynthesis by using a wider range of light.
Source- Science Daily
- Heat and dust in NCR and Graded Response Action Plan
- Since June 12, a large part of Northern India has been engulfed in a massive haze of dust.
- Weather scientists from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) say that an aggressive, westerly wind blowing at a speed of 40-50 km over a vast expanse of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Delhi, the plains of Uttarakhand and Western Uttar Pradesh is picking up the huge swathe of dust.
- Due to the suspension of dust, visibility is low and airborne particles have crossed the danger mark in Delhi and the surrounding region.
- Online air quality monitors are already beeping danger as the larger particle size of 10 microns (PM10) that are highly impacted by dust, show an increase eight to nine times over the permissible level.
- With this rising plume of dust, the tinier PM2.5 particles have also reached the “Very Poor” level.
Differences between summer and winter pollutions
- Summer pollution is very different from winter pollution when lack of wind, low temperature and inversion trap pollution inside the city.
- The study mentions that air is more toxic in winter than in summer as it contains a much larger contribution of combustion products in the former than in the latter.
How dangerous is dust?
- The yellow-brown dust is an odd mix of natural erosion of soil, sand and rock mixed with pollen, microscopic organisms, plant material and dander.
- Wind-blown dust from deserts, digging activities, and re-suspension of road dust, all add up to create the dust haze.
- Relatively bigger particles fall out of the air quickly and fairly close to where it got lifted but smaller particles remain airborne for a longer period of time.
- Normally, in its pristine nature, dust is not considered that toxic and is seen as a respiratory irritant.
- But what makes dust deadly is the way it accumulates toxic substances from other combustion sources including vehicles, industry, solid waste and biomass burning in urban environments.
- The current situation in Delhi and the NCR warrants emergency action under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).
Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP)
- The Union Environment Ministry had notified a ‘Graded Response Action Plan’ against air pollution for Delhi and the National Capital Region.
- The plan was prepared by the Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA).
- The job of ensuring implementation of the action plan will be EPCA’s under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, which will delegate the responsibility to the concerned departments.
- The graded response action plan has proposed stratified levels of action according to the air pollution levels classified by air quality index, which range from moderate to poor to very poor to severe to severe+ or emergency.
- The graded action plan implements if PM2.5 levels stay over 300 micrograms per cubic metre and PM10 levels stay above 500 micrograms per cubic metre.
- The Delhi specific comprehensive action plan was prepared by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
Source- Down to Earth
- National Tribal Museum proposed to be set up at Delhi
- A National Tribal Museum along with a National Level Tribal Research Institute is proposed to be set up at Delhi by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA).
- The Museum will showcase the rich tribal culture and heritage using state-of-the-art technologies.
- The Centre will set up six museums dedicated to tribal freedom fighters in-
(a) Narmada, Gujarat
(b) Birsa Munda Central Jail (Ranchi), Jharkhand
(c) Raipur museum, Chhattisgarh
(d) Lambasingini museum, Andhra Pradesh
(e) Chhindwara, Madhya Pradesh
(f) Kozhikode, Kerala
- In these two will be of national importance i.e. Narmada (Gujarat) and Birsa Munda Central Jail (Ranchi).
- The Ministry of Tribal Affairs will contribute Rs 130 crore, while an equal amount will be spent by the respective states for the museums.
Source-PIB + Indian Express
- Sulabh International founder “Bindeshwar Pathak” honoured with Japan’s Nikkei Asia Prize
- Noted social reformer and founder of Sulabh International, Bindeshwar Pathak, was honoured with Japan’s prestigious ‘Nikkei Asia Prize for Culture and Community’ for his significant work in tackling poor hygiene and discrimination.
- Launched in 1996, the award honours people in Asia who have made significant contributions in one of the three areas:
(a) Regional growth
(b) Science, technology and innovation
(c) Culture and Community.
- Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Infosys Chairman Narayan Murthy are among the few Indians who have won the prize in the past.
Source- The Hindu Business Line