DRYLANDS TO EVERGREEN: BIO-ENGINEERED MICROBES
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An Ecosystem is a consortium of living organisms, dwelling and interacting with each other in a specific environment. These ecosystems in some areas are subjected to overgrazing due to species congestion and due to climate change, they lost their ability to withstand or recover quickly. The beautiful lands became arid with no rain at all. More or less 40% of Earth’s land have altered into dry lands and took over an appearance of inhospitable deserts, numerous regions are suffering with water scarcity. But that dry land are still home lands to 40% of human population. Many of these dry lands were once upon a time much productive, and when they passed through the tipping point i.e. a rapid and unexpected shift that happens when an ecosystem fails to cope with increasing changes, the land falls apart, losing its integrity.
To overcome this frequent situation, a new study proposed a very interesting theoretical work using computer model. A Biophysicist Ricard Sole and his colleagues at Pompeu Fabra University, Spain, are working on this study to check whether these tipping points could be shifted through genetic changes to microorganisms.
Sole stated that it could be possible to isolate the photosynthetic bacteria (the bacteria which contain light absorbing pigments and converts the light energy into chemical energy) that already live in dry land soil and splice the genes that capture more phosphorous and store more water and integrate them into engineered microbes. These bio- engineered bacteria could enrich the soil, helping other bacteria to grow and thus leading to plant growth. The Bio engineered microbes are mutually beneficial, often described as “cooperative loops”,
They have been described in two different models. One cooperative loop was stimulated and examined how they affect the rest of the virtual ecosystem in one set of model. And in the other set of model, they stimulated microbes with increased ability to spread and disperse to new areas to flourish. Now the both modifications which are stimulated ecosystems were admitted to function under drier conditions. These engineered microbes might help the dryland ecosystems to survive for many decades to come.
What if the engineered microbes are inexorable?
People fear that horrendous scenarios could be caused by these microbes if their work went wrong. So, for sure extensive testing and extreme measures are justified to avoid unintended harm that might take place through the engineered microbes. Laboratory experiments with real organisms would begin by next year.
This study needs extensive research and understanding before concluding and applying in real life. However, the soil Bio engineered microbes could surely prevent desertification and can provide shelter and pleasant climate ecosystems to utmost human population. Its good to have aspirations for the best to work and we have the liability to utilize the technology and sources, to make a enriched plant friendly environment in place of dry land.
Blessy Beulah D
Intern, Treillis Life Sciences Pvt. Ltd