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Panaji, Scientists from the Biological Oceonography division of National Institute of Oceonography have recently discovered the oldest culturable Fungi in the world.
This has been hailed by scientists across the world, and will have strong impacts in many areas, where scientists were struggling till date.
Discovery of this Fungi now named " Aspergillus Sydowii" was made from a sediment core drilled out from a depth of 5904 metres from the Chagos Trench in the Indian Ocean.
"When we were returning we passed Chagos Trench, next to which there is one more big trench. Our Chief Scientist Dr. Nagendra said it would be interesting to take sediment from here and study. This meant that we had to spend two more days in the sea because we had already spend 43 days in the sea. We the joint consencus of all the members we went and took a sediment sampling. We drilled a 4.6 metre long core from 5000 metres depth in the trench and then 1 full day we were cutting sections from it. I was doing the Microbiological works, isolating the Fungi and so on." said, Dr. Chandralata Raghukumar.
Various types of age determination techniques including Radiolarian tests have determined the Fungi to be 430,000 years old. this makes it the oldest living Fungi.
Before this 140,000 years old Fungi was discovered by scientists in ice-cores drilled in Antartica.
"I approached my senior R.R.Nayar and said that i have a Fungus which is growing under pressure. So he advised me to get the sediment dated. He gave me Dr. Shyam Murthi Gupta's contact number. Gupta is an engeologist. I approached him and told him of my discovery and also asked him to carry out a dating of the sediment. he used the1 Radiolarian as the index of the age because these are called Biostratigraphic indxes and using this he said that the Fungi is around 43 million years old. " said, Dr. Chandralata Raghukumar.
The team of scientists of NIO, headed by Dr. Chandralata Raghukumar, have now succeeded in culturing this Fungi in laboratories under high pressure conditions.
Since the depth from which this Fungi has been scooped out is at around 6 kms in the ocean, it proves that the Fungi can tolerate very high hydrostatic pressure and low temperatures. This has generated capabilities of Micro-organisms. this Fungi synthesizes protease enzymes at cold temperatures, hence NIO scientists have applied for U.S patent, because such emzymes are needed for developing new protease - enzymes based detergents which can work in cold countries without the need of warm water, as is needed by the present protease based detergents.
This quality of Fungi can also be used in high altitude areas to decompose garbage and filth.