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Lab Report

Petal power

Blooming gulmohar trees that dot the landscape in many places have a soothing effect on our senses. But there is much more to the krishnachura (Bengali for gulmohar) than its aesthetic appeal, researchers at the Regional Research Laboratory (RRL) in Bhubaneswar have just found out. RRL scientists have extracted natural dyes of different hues from its flowers that have orange-red and yellow coloured petals. Gulmohar flowers yielded as many as six shades of dyes ranging from bright golden yellow to olive green and dull, dark brown. The production of natural colours from gulmohar flowers that are often found scattered on the ground could be of economic significance, say the scientists. These eco-friendly dyes could be used in the textile and handloom industries, and thus boost the economic growth of rural weaver communities in different parts of the country, they write in the June 25 issue of the journal, Current Science.

Bacteria-eat-mosquito system

Now there is some help from the microscopic world in fighting the mosquito menace. Researchers at the Vector Control Research Centre in Pondicherry have identified two bacterial strains that can effectively destroy the pupae of mosquitoes, which spread a large number of deadly diseases such as malaria, filariasis, dengue and viral encephalitis. Isolated from the mangrove forests of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, these two distinct strains of Bacillus subtilis can offer an effective and eco-friendly alternative to chemical insecticides in controlling mosquitoes, the scientists report in the July issue of the journal, Biological Control. Found mainly in soil, B. subtilis is non-pathogenic to humans. Significantly, these bacteria can be preserved over a long period of time as spores without their effectiveness being lost. Such spores can be sprinkled over water bodies to check mosquito breeding.

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