News: The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is working on developing “mega labs” to ramp up testing for COVID-19 as well as improve the accuracy rate.
The labs will be repurposing large machines, called Next Generation Sequencing machines (NGS), which are normally used for sequencing human genomes, to sequence 1,500 to 3,000 viral genomes at a go to detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Used optimally and with appropriate modifications, these machines can substantially detect the presence of the virus even in several instances where the traditional RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) tests fail.
This is primarily because the RT-PCR test identifies the SARS-CoV-2 virus by exploring only specific sections, whereas the genome method can read a bigger chunk of virus genome and thereby provide more certainty that the virus in question is indeed the particular coronavirus of interest.
It can also trace the evolutionary history of the virus and track mutations more reliably. Unlike the RT-PCR that needs primers and probes — a key hurdle in operationalizing such tests on a mass scale early on in the pandemic — the NGS only needs custom reagents.
About Probes and Primers:
Probes are the single-stranded nucleic acid employed in the hybridization while primers are used in the amplification.
A primer is used during the DNA replication, synthesised by the primase enzyme and helps in synthesise of growing DNA strand.
About Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR):
The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research as CSIR was established by the Government of India in September 1942 as an autonomous body that has emerged as the largest research and development organisation in India .
As of 2013, it runs 38 laboratories/institutes, 39 outreach centers, 3 Innovation Centers and 5 units throughout the nation, with a collective staff of over 14,000, including a total of 4600 scientists and 8000 technical and support personnel.
Although it is mainly funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology, it operates as an autonomous body through the Societies Registration Act, 1860.
The research and development activities of CSIR include aerospace engineering, structural engineering, ocean sciences, life sciences, metallurgy, chemicals, mining, food, petroleum, leather, and environmental science.
2. GREAT HORNBILL
News: A study based on satellite data has flagged a high rate of deforestation in a major hornbill habitat in Arunachal Pradesh.
About Great Hornbill:
The great hornbill (Buceros bicornis) also known as the concave-casqued hornbill, great Indian hornbill or great pied hornbill, is one of the larger members of the hornbill family.
It is found in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia.
Its impressive size and colour have made it important in many tribal cultures and rituals.
The great hornbill is long-lived, living for nearly 50 years in captivity.
It is predominantly frugivorous, but is an opportunist and will prey on small mammals, reptiles and birds.
It holds the IUCN status of Vulnerable.
It is found in North Eastern India and in Western Ghats.
The most prominent feature of the hornbill is the bright yellow and black casque on top of its massive bill.
3. FACTS FOR STATE SERVICES
United Arab Emirates (UAE):
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is situated in the Southeast of the Arabian Peninsula, bordering Oman and Saudi Arabia.
In December 1971, the UAE became a federation of six emirates – Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al-Quwain, and Fujairah, while the seventh emirate, Ras Al Khaimah, joined the federation in 1972.
The capital city is Abu Dhabi, located in the largest and wealthiest of the seven emirates.
The President of the UAE is Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is also Ruler of Abu Dhabi.