Dr Pv lakshmaiah IAS Study Circle > Current affairs > Environment > Microbes at the top of the world
Microbes at the top of the world
- April 23, 2023
- Posted by: admin
- Category: Environment
- Article examines human microbiota on the slopes of Mount Everest.
- Microbial communities collected in sediment samples left by human climbers on the South Col of Mount Everest at 7,900 msl.
- The South Col is the ridge which separates Mt. Everest from Lhotse, the fourth highest mountain on earth.
- At 7,900 msl, the South Col is inhospitable with low oxygen, strong winds, temperature usually below minus 15 degree Celsius, and high levels of UV radiation.
Life processes at high altitudes:
- Difficult due to low oxygen, strong winds, and temperature.
- Microbes cannot sustain themselves due to interdependence among species of all sizes in all ecosystems.
- Microbes carried by birds, animals, or winds.
- Dust particles blown in by the winds below 6,000 msl.
- Wind and humans act as carriers above 7,000 msl.
- Sophisticated methods such as 16S and 18S rRNA sequencing used to identify the bacteria and other microorganisms found on the South Col.
- Cosmopolitan human signature seen in the microbes collected.
- Modestobacter altitudinis and the fungus, naganishia, known to be UV-resistant survivors, also found.
Naming of Mt. Everest:
- In 1847, British Surveyor General of India, Andrew Waugh found a peak in the eastern end of the Himalayas which was higher than the Kangchenjunga.
- He called it Mount Everest after his predecessor, Sir George Everest.
- Nepal’s eminent historian, late Baburam Acharya, gave it the Nepali name, Sagarmatha, in the 1960s.
- Radhanath Sikdar, Indian mathematician and surveyor, was the first person to show that Mount Everest was the world’s highest peak.
- George Everest had appointed Sikdar to the post of ‘Computer’ in the Survey of India in 1831.
- In 1852, Sikdar recorded the height of ‘Peak 15’ at 8,839 metres and it was officially announced in March 1856.
The study of the microbiota on the slopes of Mount Everest provides valuable insights into how microorganisms adapt to harsh environments. The identification of microbes on the South Col at a height of 7,900 meters above sea level shows how they are carried by winds and humans. The article also sheds light on the naming of Mount Everest and how it got its Nepali name, Sagarmatha.