Friday, 30 April 2010

Monsoons went erratic 18,000 years ago

2010
Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, April 30: Erratic rainfall during present day monsoons is not a new phenomenon, but a result of climatic changes that occurred in the Arabian sea some 18,000 years ago.

The Arabian sea, from which emerge the monsoons bringing in rainfall to the Indian sub-continent, turned warmer by 4 degrees Celsius about 18 millennia ago, leading to reduced rainfall in the region. The phenomenon continues till day causing erratic monsoons.

Researchers at the National Institute of Oceanography and the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research have reconstructed the rainfall viability over thousands of years to study what went wrong with the monsoon system, since the Indian sub-continent largely depends on the monsoon for rainfall.

The joint research team of NIO-NCAOR has found that the Arabian sea was 4 degrees C cooler during 18,000 years ago, while the general belief is that the sea was cooler by just 2 degrees C. "In our study we have demonstrated that Arabian sea was 4 degrees C cooler during 18 kilo annum (18,000 years), which had a strong bearing in the initiation of monsoon rainfall in the Asian sub-continent," Dr Pothuri Divakar Naidu of NIO, Goa.

He told this reporter that the reconstruction of rainfall viability over thousands of years reveal that from 10.5 to 3.5 ka (10,500 years to 3,500 years ago) there was good amount of rainfall in the subcontinent. "But from about 3,500 years onwards descending phase of monsoon rainfall started due to arid climatic conditions in the Indian  subcontinent," Dr Divakar pointed out.

The team studied variations in sea surface temperature, sea water and salinity in the Arabian sea. They reconstructed the atmospheric model for the past 68,000 years using a sediment core from the Eastern Arabian Sea to understand the changes in evaporation and precipitation associated with the monsoon system.

The southwest monsoon emanates from the temperature and pressure gradients that occur between the Indian Ocean and Tibet Plateau during summer. The upper ocean heat supplies the necessary evaporation and atmospheric moisture transport during this phenomenon. Thus, a strong link exists between ocean dynamics and the atmospheric heat and moisture transfer behind the monsoon

"The socio-economic and agriculture development of southeast Asia depend on the monsoon precipitation from June through September,
which contributes about 70 to 90 per cent of the annual precipitation in the region. Therefore, an understanding of the monsoon system beyond historical records is desired," he said.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Tiny nanotubes to deliver biomaterials like DNA and RNA for effective gene therapy

2010
Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, April 23: A group of city scientists has developed tiny nanotubes that could serve as next generation micro pills to deliver biomaterials like DNA and RNA for effective gene therapy.

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology and the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology have already patented this unique technology. The nanotubes developed from organic material, for the first time in the world, could be useful not only to deliver small regulatory RNA and DNA as therapeutic materials but also to optimise pill-like properties for orally ingested materials.

"This beautiful technology may help in making the next-generation micro pills to deliver biomaterials for effective gene therapy and novel cargoes for molecular diagnostics. It can also be used for mass delivery of therapeutic biomolecules via food in various animal populations for the improvement of animal husbandry," Dr Utpal Bhadra of CCMB told this correspondent.

The IICT-CCMB team comprising JS Yadav, MP Lavanya, PP Das,
Manika Pal Bhadra and Utpal Bhadra zeroed in on a special material for construction of nano tubes. They selected p-aminobenzoic acid
or PABA in short. This is a natural material that forms part of folic acid and the vitamin B complex present in the human liver. Since it is a natural non-protein amino acid, it has little side effects on animals or human beings. Moreover, PABA is also known to support folic acid production by intestinal bacteria.

The PABA nano tubes will also help in increase of PABA concentration in the intestine during oral ingestion, which might help intestinal bacteria to convert it into folic acids, and protect against strokes, cardiovascular diseases and even certain cancers. Therefore, ingestion of PABA nano tubes plays a dual role, directly as a delivery vehicle of therapeutic agents and indirectly by preventing different diseases as a therapeutic agent itself.

"These nano structures minimise many obstacles including absorption in body fluids, systemic spreading and the reduction of immunogenetic symptoms. The tubes also maintain their fluorescent activity for a long period of time and do not suffer from dissociation or decay of fluorescence," Dr Bhadra said.

The advantage of nano tubes is that they spontaneously adsorb onto the membrane and later accumulate within intracellular compartments.

Referring to the safety of the new technology, the team points out that in drosophila studies no difference in size or any abnormalities in their sexual behaviour were observed. The egg laying capacity of adult females for six consecutive days after hatching and the sex of hatched flies were counted. No significant difference was detected in egg laying capacity and male/female ratios in nano tube-fed females as compared to the wild type.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Sania Mirza-Shoaib Malik marriage: Qazis seek police clearance certificate

2010
Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, April 9: The chief qazis of Hyderabad and Secunderabad on Friday arrived at a consensus that they should insist on production of police clearance and no objection certificates, besides the passport in original, to solemnise the marriage of Pakistani cricket player Shoaib Malik with Indian tennis player Sania Mirza.

The chief qazis took up the issue of marriage of Shoaib Malik-Sania Mirza, as some enthusiastic deputy qazis vied with one another to solemnise the celebrity wedding. They made it clear that since Shoaib Malik is a foreigner, the deputy qazis should not rush in to perform his marriage, without duly verifying his credentials.

Moreover, it is in the interest of Sania Mirza that the passport details of Shoaib Malik are entered in the Nikahnamah. Based on the Nikahnama, the State Wakf Board will issue a marriage certificate, which will be revalidated by the Union Ministry of External Affairs. If the passport details of Shoaib Malik are not entered in the marriage certificate, Sania Mirza will not travel to Lahore for the grand reception, as the wife of the Pakistani cricketer. Without the details, she will get the visa as just a companion or visitor and not as a legal wife.

Ever since the news of Sania-Shoaib broke out, there has been a virtual fight among deputy qazis. It is this fight that led to rumours of advancement of Sania-Shoaib marriage on Friday. A deputy qazi attached to Golconda jurisdiction announced that he had been invited to perform the marriage on Friday evening. The deputy qazi stuck to his word throughout the day, only to backtrack in the evening.

"Our marriage records are incomplete if we do not make entry, in the Nikahnama, of passport details and the duration of the stay as granted in the visa. We have instructed our deputy qazis not to perform the marriage of local girls with foreigners without physically verifying the passport and NOC obtained from respective national governments," Qazi Lateef Ali Quadri, one of the three government-appointed chief qazis of Golconda (Qila Muhammad Nagar), that covers a major portion of new city of Hyderabad.

According to sources, the chief qazis of Secunderabad, Hyderabad old city (Shariat Panah Balda Hyderabad) and Golconda (Qila Muhammad Nagar Bara Mahal) discussed the issue of Shoaib Malik's NOC and passport. Incidentally, Shoaib Malik reportedly did not keep a photocopy of his passport, which is now in judicial custody.

The rumours are also linked to the infighting in the institution of Golconda Qazi, under whose jurisdiction the residence of Sania Mirza falls. Golconda Darul Qazat is controlled by four chief qazis, three of whom are appointed by the State government. The fourth one is continuing in office on AP High Court stay orders.

Deputy Qazi Azmatullah Jafri told this correspondent that he had spoken to the media only after he got a call from Sania's family. "I was told that the Nikah will be held on Friday evening insha Allah. I have been waiting, but they have not confirmed it," he said clarifying that he had not floated the rumours.

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Syed Akbar at the 11th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity