DNA Decoding Sheds Light on Neanderthal Life

DNA decoding is a powerful technique. It is a molecular level investigation tool about the life. It has helped the life scientists to say with confidence that at the molecular level, all life is identical to 99.9%. The remaining 0.1 % is all which is responsible for the vivid diversity of life.

According to one report, Neanderthals, our distant cousins, used natural drugs to alleviate the pain and diseases. 50000 years ago, they were depending on the natural cures. The ancient fossil of jaw had been studied genetically and it has been found that genetic material collected from the plaque of teeth belonged to oral bacteria and leaf pieces of  medicinal compounds.

They have found methanobrevibactor which indicates abscess. These bacteria damage the teeth and cause severe pain.

Also DNA material belonging to the bacteria Enterocytozoon bieneusi. These are intestinal bacteria and cause diarrhoea.

Populus trichocarpa Popolar tree pieces which contain salicylic acid which is an ingredient of aspirin the pain killer. It would have been effective against the pain in abscess.

Penicillium rubens are food fungus and source of medical penicillin. This natural antibiotic would have been effective against gut parasites.

Most of the material has been published in the Times of India newspaper.

Odour Chemicals in Armpit 

Human Armpit cavity provides an ideal environment for growth of bacteria. The intensity of bacteria in the armpits is mind boggling. In fact, it is reported that there are a million bacteria per square centimeter. Not only are their population so high, there are so many different types of them. They produce chemicals by breaking down the precursor chemicals present in sweat which cause the stinking smell. The odours are so embarrassing to people that millions of dollars industry of deodorants thrives due to this.

This means that in addition to ideal temperature and lodging facilities like folds of skin and hair, the armpits secretions must be supplying them with chemicals they depend upon to extract energy for survival.

Armpits contain sweat chemicals. When these chemicals are broken down into other compounds by bacteria many of these end products give of very obnoxious smells. Bacteria produce sulphur containing compounds which give off nauseating onion like smell. Then there are compounds which are degraded into organic acids. One of the acids gives the “cumin like smell” while another acid gives odour similar to the one which comes from the goats.

Then they produce pheromones which are the chemicals that attracts the opposite gender person. Two possible pheromones are Androstenol (alcohol) which smells like “musk” and other is Androstenone. (ketone) which smells differently to different persons.

Two low molecular weight acids namely iso-valeric and we’ll known acetic acid are also produced. The first one gives cheesy, sweaty foot smell and other as is commonly known  as the vinegar smell.

These chemicals are produced by bacteria using different enzyme reaction routes..

The details of the odour chemicals and their precursors, enzyme and bacteria responsible for these are given in this article..

Yogurt

Yogurt is the fermentation product of milk. In India,  it is part of food consumed by the village people. Buttermilk is made from it and in summers it gives refreshment and energy. It has a cooling effect and promotes digestion because it contains probiotic-the “good bacteria” in addition to Calcium, proteins.

As in most of transformations, the process of converting milk into yogurt is carried out by bacteria. Yogurt forms when bacteria ferment the sugar lactose (C12H22O11) into Lactic acid (C3H6O3).

Lactose
Lactic Acid

Although Lactic acid is a weak acid, it is strong enough to lower the pH (or make more acid) causing the proteins in milk to coagulate. The main protein in dairy milk is casein. The acidity gives yogurt its tangy flavor, while the coagulated proteins result in a thickened, creamy texture. Several types of bacteria can ferment lactose. Yogurt cultures may contain Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus, other Lactobacillus strains, Streptococcus thermophilus, and bifidobacteria.

You can make yogurt from any type of milk. Although most yogurt is made from bovine milk (e.g., cow, sheep, goat), the fermentation process works on other types of “milk”, as long as they contain a sugar for the bacteria to ferment and protein that can be coagulated. Yogurt can be made from soy milk, coconut milk, and almond milk.

The first time you make yogurt, you need a starter culture as a source of the bacteria. You can use ordinary store-bought yogurt with active culture or you can use freeze-dried yogurt starter. Milk is inoculated with the stored bacteria culture which begin to multiply and convert sugars into Lactic acid. The bacteria work optimally at 100°F (38°C). So the temperature should be maintained as close as possible to this temperature and milk undisturbed.

Is there life on Mars? Again Microbes hold the key

Earliest life of single cell evolved into 3 branches having distinct traits. The branches further subdivide into more branches on the evolutionary tree of life called Phylogenetic tree of life. The first three branches are called Bacteria, archaea and Eucaryota.

450px-Phylogenetic_tree

As we can see in this tree, there is a member of archaea family with the name Methanogen. This microbe holds the answer for presence of vast quantities of methane which is trapped inside the ice cages called methane hydrates. These hydrates are found on Earth in the permafrost regions having very low temperatures or under the deep sea floor. Water molecules arrange themselves into octahedral cubes in which molecules of many compounds can fit into them. These are called clathrate compounds. These structures are very fragile and as soon as the overhead pressure is reduced or temperature increases, the structure crumbles and gas is released. So special technology is required to produce the methane from hydrates. In US, carbon dioxide was pumped into the hydrate layer. It substituted into the cages releasing the methane free. It served two important purposes. First the production of fuel gas methane and sequestration of unwanted carbon dioxide. These microbes use carbon dioxide and hydrogen to make their food and also generate methane and water. These microbes are very enterprising. They can use alternative sources of carbon like acetates which are the products formed by another kind of bacteria by breaking the macro-molecules present in the buried organic matter, for their food. One thing these tiny beings hate is oxygen. They work in anaerobic environments like deep buried locations.

Now this microbe is being held responsible for the methane gas found on Mars indicating that there is life on the planet. It means Mars is not a dead planet. Professor James Kasting said if there is anything alive on Mars at this time in its history, it would probably be some form of microbial life living deep beneath the planet’s surface. Perhaps the most likely form of microbial life is a type of bacteria known as methanogenic bacteria, or methanogens for short. The CO2 needed by the methanogens could presumably come from the atmosphere. The H2 could come from chemical reactions between water and certain types of rocks, specifically magnesium- and iron-rich basalts. Such rocks are found on certain parts of the seafloor today on Earth. When they react with water, they form minerals called serpentine minerals. In the process, hydrogen is produced. The reaction that produces methane is thermodynamically favorable, so Methanogens could use the energy released by this reaction to drive their metabolism. Microbes can make many reactions happen at much lower temperature by changing the path of reactions through enzyme catalysts which these microbes synthesize.

Ad Makers thrive on ignorance of Public

In many ads about germicides, it is claimed that so and so soap kills 99.9% bacteria. This means that if there were 100000 of these microscopic beings, after treatment 99900 will be killed but still 100 will stay alive. One thing they don’t tell is that bacteria growth is exponential and within no time they will multiply again.  As the number of surviving bacteria will be less and amount of food is same as before, their proliferation rate is very high and they will grow within no time to large numbers. Only limiting factor against their growth is the starvation when the food is exhausted. Don’t be fooled that they die when the food is exhausted. No, they become dormant and wait for the food to become available again and again they revive.

The fact is we are born with “conditions apply’ tags and we are bound to play host to millions of bacteria who live inside and outer skin of our bodies. Many of these are beneficial to us.

What the bacteria lack is size they amply make up in sheer numbers.They live everywhere and there is no escape from them except immunity levels which are different from person to person and also with age.

Lack of knowledge of general people is used by the manufactures to fool them.

Bacteria in Oilfields

Bacteria can thrive on almost anything and adapt themselves to very diverse environments. They can eat subsist on substances like cellulose which we humans cannot assimilate. They can breakdown poisonous gases like hydrogen sulfide and absorb nitrogen from atmosphere and fix them into the roots of many plants which plants use as fertilizer.

Bacteria can even breakdown crude oil. Crude oil consists of millions of hydrocarbons which are composed from carbon and hydrogen. These compounds range from the simplest molecule called methane made from 1 carbon atom to giant molecules containing even more than 50 carbon atoms.

Many of these bacteria live in the upper crust of the soil. They have attained the capability to use lighter hydrocarbon gases namely methane, ethane, propane and also the higher molecular hydrocarbons as the source of the carbon nutrient for energy. These are called aerobic bacteria and commonly termed as methanotrophs, propanotrophs and so on. They use like us the atmospheric oxygen to oxidize the hydrocarbons and end result is energy, carbon dioxide and water, the same products as are generated during the digestion of food by us. Of course, they also need so many other nutrients like electrolytes, trace elements which they use to synthesize enzymes which help in carrying out degradation reactions at much lower temperatures.

But this is not the end of story. There are bacteria which can survive in the anoxic (without oxygen) environment such as deeply buried bacteria which breakdown the organic matter. They extract the oxygen required to breakdown the organic matter from the sulfate ions present in the water associated with the organic matter. They breakdown the organic matter to methane and one strain of them is aptly called methanogens.

One may wonder if such bacteria exist deep down and breakdown the oil why have they eaten up all the oil present inside the reservoirs. The answer is that they are sloths in nature. They multiply with speeds nowhere near to the aerobic bacteria. Experimenters working in proliferating and separating the pure strains are often frustrated with there laziness.

The hypothesis that all the biogenic gas has been produced by aerobic bacteria is being challenged because biogenic gas has been found in the deeper sediments generated under anaerobic conditions. Researchers say that the methane trapped inside the ice crystals called gas hydrates has been the handiwork of methanogens.

Microbes Rule Our World

There are trillions of microbes which inhabit an adult body. Looking at the sheer numbers, one may think that all these microbes are responsible for the ailments only. But this is not true. On the contrary, microbes are much more our friends than our enemies. Microbes run this world despite their infinitely small size. Their success lies in the sheer numbers and ability to adapt to the changing conditions. Following is the list of some species of the microbes that make our lives better:

Bacillus thuringiensis: A common soil bacterium that is a natural pest-killer in gardens and on crops.

Arbuscular mycorrhizas: It is a fungus living in the soil that helps crops take up nutrients from the soil.

Saccharomyces cerevisiae: Baker’s yeast that makes bread rise by generating carbon dioxide.

Escherichia coli It is one of many kinds of microbes that live in your digestive system to help you digest your food every day.

Streptomyces: Bacteria in soil that makes an antibiotic used to treat infections.

Pseudomonas putida:  It is one of many microbes that clean wastes from sewage water at water treatment plants.

Lactobacillus acidophilus: One of the bacteria that turn milk into yogurt.

There are many other important jobs microbes do. They are used to make medicine. They break down the oil from oil spills which otherwise can pollute the sea and cause havoc to the aquatic life . They make about half of the oxygen we breathe by breaking the water molecules into respective components hydrogen and oxygen. They are the foundation of the food chain that feeds all living things on earth.

We’ve been using microbes for thousands of years to make products we need and enjoy. For example, you can thank fungi for the cheese on your cheeseburger and yeast for your bun. Cheese and bread are two microbe-made foods people have been enjoying since time began.

Over the past 50 years, we’ve begun using microbes to do all kinds of new work for us. Here are some examples of microbes at work in pollution control and medicine.

In pollution control, researchers are using bacteria that eat methane gas to clean up hazardous waste dumps and landfills. These methane-eating bacteria make an enzyme that can break down more than 250 pollutants into harmless cells. By piping methane into the soil, researchers can increase growth of the bacteria that normally live in the polluted soil. More bacteria means faster pollution break up. Also, bacteria is being used as one of the tools to clean up oil spills. These bacteria eat the oil, turning it into carbon dioxide and other harmless by-products.

Fungi and bacteria produce antibiotics such as penicillin and tetracycline . These are medicines we use to fight off harmful bacteria that cause sore throats, ear infections, diarrhea and other discomforts. Scientists have changed the genetic material of bacteria and yeasts to turn them into medicine. They inject genes for medicines they want to make into the microbe cells, as if adding new building information to the microbe’s cell DNA. The scientists then grow the microbes in huge containers called fermenters where they reproduce into billions, all making new medicines.