from the Arctic could serve as workhorses of
biotechnology to catalyse reactions at low temperature.
After finding 25 bacterial
species in the Antarctica, a scientist here
has begun studying the microbial diversity in
the Arctic region for discovering new genes,
bio-molecules and enzymes with potential applications
for pharmaceutical and detergent industries.
Director-grade scientist, Centre for Cellular
and molecular Biology (CCMB), who collected
soil, water and sediment samples from the numerous
glaciers and the Arctic ocean to prospect the
microbial diversity, told the The Hindu here
on Wednesday that the microbes from the Arctic
could serve as workhorses of biotechnology to
catalyse reaction at low temperature. He was
part of the five-member first Indian Scientific
Expedition to Arctic that returned recently
after a trip to the North Pole.
He would look into whether
the microbes living in the pristine glaciers
of the Arctic are similar to those on the icy
continent of Antarctica or unique to their environment.
He would also study how they thrive in sub-freezing
temperatures when organisms living in tropical
conditions cannot survive below 8 degrees C.
identified:Many of the discovered
species in the Antarctica were named in honour
of that continent, India and the two Indian
permanent stations, Dakshin Gagotri
and maitri located there. Using
these organisms, he identified genes required
for survival of mico-organisms at sub-zero temperatures
and enzymes of biotechnological potential.
Describing the expedition's
experience, he said: "The pristine cold
environment embraced us with its purity, cleanliness,
glaciers and the colorful ocean. It was literally
a top-of-the-world feeling. I was so exited
that I wanted to work from the very day of arrival
and then realized that during this period, the
Arctic was one long day without any night since
the sun does not set in the Arctic between May
and August. I could sample the numerous glaciers
dotting the Ny-Alesund, where
we set up our camp".
Explaining the uniqueness of
sampling the glaciers in the North Pole, he
said there was no anthropogenic influence there,
unlike anywhere else in the world. Another striking
feature of the Arctic, unlike Antarctica, was
that 6-7 percent of the land area was covered
with vegetation, including a number of beautiful
flowers. These life forms could serve as excellent
model systems to unravel the biological basis
of adaptation to low temperature and reveal
the various strategies adapted by them to survive