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History of 22nd July – New Fungi

History of 22nd July – New Fungi

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22nd July

This episode of the series is on the history of 22nd July which includes the printing of “Tractate Niddah” in 1489, the massacre of Jews in Polannoe in 1648, and the discovery of diamonds in Minas Gerais, Brazil, in 1729. Additionally, it features a groundbreaking discovery by Indian mycologists of heat-resistant fungi spores, known as ‘Agni’s Fungi.’

The events which make the history of 22nd July are quite a few. I am sharing some with my readers.

To begin with, it was this day in the year 1489 when “Tractate Niddah” a Talmudic edition was printed for the first time. The tractate Niddah is concerned with the halakhic status of a woman’s body. It details and clarifies all of the rules of Niddah, which describes a woman in her menstruation period. The Mishnah contains ten chapters and deals with all topics surrounding menstruation, including genital discharge and the birthing cycle.

Next reading the history of 22nd July we come to the year 1648 when on this day 10,000 Jews of Polannoe were murdered in the Chmielnick massacre during Khmelnytsky Uprising which is also known as the Cossack–Polish War, the Chmielnicki Uprising, the Khmelnytsky massacre or the Khmelnytsky insurrection. It was a Cossack rebellion that took place between 1648 and 1657 in the eastern territories of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, which led to the creation of a Cossack Hetmanate in Ukraine.

Now as we proceed with the history of 22nd July we go back to 1729 when on this day the first diamonds were discovered in the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil. This started a diamond rush which led Brazil to become the most important diamond source in the world.

With this, I come to the feature story from the history of 22nd July.

Heat resistant Fungi

In a groundbreaking discovery poised to revolutionize biotechnology, Indian mycologists have stumbled upon a remarkable find – heat-resistant fungi spores capable of withstanding temperatures as high as 100-115 degrees Celsius.

Spores, the reproductive cells known for their ability to develop into new individuals without requiring fusion with other reproductive cells, were the focus of the fungi researchers’ investigation. These extraordinary heat-resistant spores were unearthed in deceased leaves, a discovery that took the team approximately one and a half years to reach. Although still in its preliminary stages, this finding carries profound implications.

Dubbed ‘Agni’s Fungi,’ these organisms stand out as among the most heat-resistant eukaryotes ever recorded. They were predominantly found in leaf litter originating from the tropical semi-arid habitat of the Western Ghats in southern India, a region frequently affected by forest fires. This adaptation to their fiery environment could explain the spores’ robust thermal resilience.

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Intriguingly, these fungi, in collaboration with bacteria, play a crucial role in decomposing dead leaves by breaking down their molecular structure, contrasting with other fungi that cause harm to living trees and plants.

The researchers isolated 25 different fungi species from the leaf litter, and among them, the spores of nine species demonstrated the ability to germinate after being subjected to incubation in a drying oven for over two hours at 100 degrees Celsius. Even more astonishingly, the spores of Chaetomella raphigera and Phoma proved capable of surviving a two-hour incubation at 110 degrees Celsius, while the hardiest of them all – the spores of Bartalinia – endured an exposure of two hours at 115 degrees Celsius. Curiously, longer exposure of Bartalinia spores to temperatures below this threshold proved to be as lethal as shorter exposures to temperatures exceeding 115 degrees Celsius. Evidently, the heat resistance of these fungal spores depends on both time and temperature.

The research paper detailing this groundbreaking discovery was co-authored by Surayanarayanan, alongside MB Govindarajalu, E Thirumalai (VINSTROM), M Sudhakara Reddy (Thapar University, Patiala), and Nicholas P Money (Miami University, Oxford Ohio, US). This discovery promises to open up new avenues of research and innovation in the field of biotechnology, captivating scientists and enthusiasts worldwide.

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