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Marine scientist gizmo to check sea pollution

15 December 2010

As the International Year of Biodiversity draws to a close, a young marine scientist has unveiled a user-friendly and inexpensive marine pollution monitor that detects the presence of toxic metals in seawater.

A research scholar at the National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, V.N. Linshy has found that foraminifera, a kind of single cell microorganism, is capable of detecting even minute amounts of toxic pollutants in the sea. She has been honoured by the Indian Science Congress, the country’s apex scientific body, with the best young environmental scientist for 2010-11 for her work.

Rajiv Nigam, senior scientist at NIO, under whose guidance Ms Linshy works, told Deccan Chronicle from his lab in Goa: “Conventional analysis of marine samples for pollution were long drawn processes with severe limitations.

But foraminifera organisms can detect even micro gram quantities of mercury and cadmium, major pollutants of oceans across the world.”

“We could detect from 2 nano gm to 280 nano gm of mercury using the microorganism,” Ms Linshy said. The unique feature of the process is the speed with which pollution could be detected, she said. “While the existing methods detect pollution only at an advanced stage, foraminifera enables us to find pollution levels at the initial stages itself helping to initiate remedial measures,” she said.

Prof T. Balasubramanian, eminent marine biologist and director, Centre For Advanced Studies in marine Biology, described Linshy’s findings as an encouraging development.

“Pollutants in billions of grams could be accumulated by these microorganisms from the surrounding water bodies without undergoing major damage,” said the professor.

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Written by csirindia

December 15, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Posted in NIO

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