Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Trees in tropical peat forests release more methane through their stems than is emitted from the soil surface

Sunitha Pangala, final year PhD student at The Open University’s Centre for Earth, Planetary Space and Astronomical Research,Walton Hall, United Kingdom under the guidance and supervision of Dr. Vincent Gauci has reported that Wetlands are the largest source of methane to the atmosphere, with tropical wetlands comprising the most significant global wetland source component. In their research study, they quantify in situ methane emissions from tree stems, peatland surfaces (ponded hollows and hummocks) and root-aerating pneumatophores in a tropical forested peatland in Southeast Asia.They observed that tree stems emit substantially more methane than peat surfaces, accounting for 62–87% of total ecosystem methane flux. Tree stem flux strength was controlled by the stem diameter, wood specific density and the amount of methane dissolved in pore water.
This finding is important as previously it was thought that methane was only emitted via diffusion and bubbles at the wetland surface and also this is the first study to measure methane release from tree stems in tropical peat swamps and evaluate its importance at an ecosystem level. This research paper has been published in the January issue of New Phytologists (Volume 197, Issue 2,)

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Light Action and Camera with Plant Sciences

 (Series-1: Indian Cinema born with Botany)

Gangadhar Panday 
Actor & short filmmaker. Author runs Babul Films to spread ecological awareness. Email: gangadhar@babulfilms.in
    Botany is biotic part of the environment pertaining to plant life. Origins of Biology trace back to around 2400 years with ancient sacred texts from India, China and other cultures testifying to it. In comparison Cinema is just about 100 years old. While biology is closely linked to humans in multiple ways, films play a robust role in shaping our thinking. Films have huge potential to entertain and also to carry messages.
    I request you to do a simple exercise: try to think of films minus botany. You have not even completed the exercise but, I am sure, you have realized how important plants are. It is really hard to conceive of any film without plants or something made out of plants!
    In 1912 when Dhundiraj Govind Phalke [fondly known as Dadasaheb, the father of Indian Cinema] proposed to raise money for his first ever film venture, no one was willing to even trust that something like a motion picture was possible. He was disparate to convince people to raise capital for his film. So he made a short film on the birth of a plant. He planted a pea seed in a flower pot and took pictures at various stages over a period of a month from sprouting to a full-grown creeper. He then joined these to make a motion picture and showed it to the financers. Yes, the experimental trick worked. Potential financiers watched this short instructional film titled ‘Birth of a Pea Plant’ and were convinced and agreed to fund his first film venture Raja Harishchandra.
Still from Marathi film 'Harishchandrahi Factor 
    The subject of the very first film in India was about a seed germinating and growing into a plant! The birth of a plant on reel life has marked the birth of cinema in real life. Even though the experiment was done purely for financial reasons and using of pot, peat, pea, pod, plant as actors was coincidental, for me this wonder seems natural and symbolic of the love affair of film and plants that began in India. Now we are celebrating the centenary of Indian Cinema. 
To be continued...

Are you an artist/filmmaker having interest in plants? Or a Botanists having interest in making films on plant sciences? Do feed back in the comments section!

Saturday, 1 December 2012

3rd International Conference on Algal Biomass, Biofuels and Bioproducts

Major Areas : Emerging technologies in algal biology, biomass production, cultivation, harvesting, extraction, bioproducts, and econometrics. (For Detailed Themes Click here )

Date :16 - 19 June, 2013

Venue:  The Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel
123 Queen Street West
Toronto, Ontario M5H 2M9

Abstract Submission Deadline – 15 February, 2013

Early Registration Deadline: 8 April, 2013

Registration Fee

Early Academic Registration US $600
Early Industrial Registration US $700
Student Registration US $295
Academic Registration US $700
Industrial Registration US $800
Conference Dinner US $80

 Important Conference Deadlines
Abstract submission deadline              15 February, 2013
Author notification deadline 25 March, 2013
Author registration deadline 8 April, 2013
Earlybird registration deadline 8 April, 2013

Supporting Journal: Algal Research

 For More Details and Updates Visit


Thursday, 29 November 2012

Homa Organic Farming: A New Dimension in Agriculture

(Experience from International Conference on Organic Farming for Sustainability in Horti-Agriculture)
Ritesh Kumar
Senior Research Fellow (Plant Pathology)
ICAR Research Complex for Eastern Region
Research Centre, Plandu, Ranchi-834010

An International Conference on Organic Farming for Sustainability in Horti-Agriculture was organised by Jharkhand State Horticulture Mission in association with Directorate of Horticulture and Organic Farming Authority of Jharkhand. The objective of the two day conference (8th and 9th November) was to create awareness on the recent advances in the field of sustainable organic farming. Organic farming has become the most talked subject today. It is an ancient approach to farming and is a gift given by India to the world. Global presence of Indian certified organic produce in International markets is receiving wide attention by countries around the world and as a result India was the ‘Country of the Year’ in Biofach, 2012 held in Numermberg, Germany.
The conference dealt with different themes-
o   The Present scenario of different Organic Farming Systems and way forward for their integration.
o   Organic Produce: Certification, Marketing, Promotion & Exports.
o   Organic Farming: Select Protocols, Indigenous Traditional Knowledge and Improved Techniques.
Among all the themes and lecture in between them the most interesting was lecture on ‘Homa’ for organic farming. The concept of ‘Homa’ being used in agriculture was quite new although it is an ancient method used in prehistoric times. The thing is only this is now getting scientific validation. It was surprising to know that rigorous research is going on Homa Organic Farming and people from outside India e.g. Gemany, Australia, Austia are taking much interest in it. In her lecture ‘Concept of Homa Organic Farming’ Karin Heschel from Five Fold Path Mission, Austria said that ‘tremendous amount of energy is gathered around the ‘Agnihotra’ copper pyramid (pot used during Agnihotra) when  Agnihotra performed in Homa therapy. Agnihotra, the basic healing fire of Homa therapy is a small fire prepared in a copper pyramid exactly at sunrise and sunset each day. Agnihotra can neutralize the effects of pollution on plants, animals and human beings and at the same time give nourishment.  The rhythms and mantras generate much subtle energy which is thrust into the atmosphere by the fire. An aura energy field is created around plants during Agnihotra and as a result plants become stronger and resistant to disease. Also when the flame dies the energy is locked in the resultant ash which is used for preparing various folk medicines’.
Ulrich Berk from Five Fold Path Mission, Germany emphasized Impact of Homa Organic Farming in mitigating soil, water and environmental crisis. He mentioned in his lecture that ‘Experiments done with Agnihotra showed indoor microbial pollution is greatly reduced and regular use of Agnihotra controls pathogenic bacteria. Also the concentration of negative ions is an important indicator of atmospheric pollution. The more negative ion in the air, less is the pollution. Normally smoke particles are charged positive. But when Agnihotra is performed, the smoke of Agnihotra fire shows a higher concentration of negative ions and thus it purifies the air in an area around where it is being performed’. In his lecture “Homa Jaivik Krishi: A Hope for Sustainable Agriculture”, R. K. Pathak, a Homa Teacher from Five Fold Path Mission mentioned that there is need of intensive research on organic farming systems by networking of ICAR institutes and S. A. Us to develop reliable data for convincing policy makers and promotion of Homa Jaivik Farming.
The above said concept was quite strange and new for the participants of the conference. And validation of its effect in farming would be a new horizon of research for the biologists. It must be mentioned here that there is nothing new in the Homa therapy and is a quite ancient practiced in our country.  It was simply our ignorance which has taken the attention of others. Is it that we are ignoring our traditional knowledge/ancient knowledge and we accept when the same get certification from some others? If things will go like that only time will come when we will be having everything after getting branded and that will not be in  our hands in true sence. Who is going to take the responsibility of conserving everything we have?