DNA Sequencing Current Affairs - 2019

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India Rhino will soon have DNA Database

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has undertaken a project to create DNA Profiles of all rhinos present in India. The project which would formally be underway by end of 2019 is set to be completed by 2021 (project’s deadline).

Key Facts

About: After the completion of project, Indian rhino could become India’s first wild animal species to have all its members DNA-sequenced. The database so collected will be hosted in Wildlife Institute of India (WII) headquarters in Dehradun.

Project Highlights: The project being undertaken is a subset of India’s larger, already ongoing Rhino Conservation Programme.

Population: In India, there are about 2,600 rhinos and more than 90% of Indian Rhino population is concentrated in Kaziranga National Park, Assam.

Since 1980s, Indian government is trying to move significant number of rhinos out of Kaziranga. The aim behind it is in interest of the species’ conservation, threats they face from poaching and challenges to their current habitat. Some other locations for translocating are in Assam itself like Manas National Park and Pobitara Wildlife Sancutary.

Project Proponents: includes World Wide Fund for Nature-India (WWF-India) and Centre-funded Wildlife Institute of India (WII).

Current Updates: around 60 samples of tissue of rhinos living outside Kaziranga have been collected so far and researchers are also extracting DNA samples from dung.

Importance: DNA Database exercise would be useful to curb killing and poaching and collecting evidence in wildlife crimes involving rhinos.

Rhino Species: There are three species of rhinos, out of which only one species ‘the Indian rhino’ is found in India.

British-Indian Shankar Balasubramanian knighted for his work on DNA sequencing

An Indian-origin British professor of chemistry and DNA expert at Cambridge University Shankar Balasubramanian received Knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II for their contributions.

He was recognised for his work as a co-inventor of Next Generation DNA sequencing (also known as Solexa sequencing), described as the most transformational advance in biology and medicine for decades.

About Shankar Balasubramanian

  • Born on 30 September 1966 in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. He had received PhD for research on the Reaction mechanism of the enzyme Chorismate synthase from University of Cambridge
  • He is recognised for his contributions in the field of nucleic acids. He is scientific founder of Solexa and Cambridge Epigenetix.
  • At present, he is Herchel Smith Professorof Medicinal Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry the University of Cambridge.
  • More recently, he has made major contributions to understanding the role of DNA-quadruplexes in cancer and invented a method for the sequencing of epigenetic modifications.
About Knighthood

It is one of the highest honours bestowed upon an individual in the UK and it doesn’t carry any military obligations to the sovereign. Persons receiving it are entitled with title ‘Sir’ before their name. The knighthoods are conferred by the Queen or a member of the Royal Family acting on her behalf in Britain. Queen usually presents insignia at the ceremony.

Solexa sequencing: It is an individual genome to be sequenced in a day or two at a cost of less than 1,000 pounds. Previously, sequencing the human genome took years of work and cost billions.