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Study shows indigenous bacteria in Dal can reduce pesticide impact


Srinagar, Sep 3: The presence of bacteria in the ecosystem of Dal Lake and other water bodies have a natural capacity to degrade pesticide residues, which could prove useful as a remedy for degrading water bodies, says a recent study.

The study titled, ‘A comparative study on biodegradation of chlorpyrifos’, jointly conducted by a team of scientists from SKAUST-K, Central University of Kashmir, and Amity University, has found that the negative impacts of pesticides on the environment can be degraded or quickly deactivated by using naturally occurring bacterial microorganisms like E. coli and Pseudomonas fluorescens.


“Continuous use of pesticides has raised some serious concerns as their persistence and solubility in a particular habitat causes serious environmental pollution problems. Among the various pesticides currently used, the chlorpyrifos pesticides have shown their presence in both the soil and water bodies of the valley,” read the study published in the last week of August in ‘Current Science’, a noted science journal.

The team of researchers include: Imtiyaz Murtaza, Bushra, Sageera Showkat, Shah Ubaid-Ullah, Omi Laila, Sumyra Majid, Neyiaz A. Dar, Mukhtar Ahmad and Girish Sharma.

As per the study, the researchers have identified two different types of bacteria – Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas fluorescens – living in water bodies and soil, respectively.

“These were found to be highly efficient in biodegrading chloropyrifos into simpler and non-toxic chemicals by using the compound as their source of energy, growth and other metabolic activity,” the study revealed.

The study reported the presence of an insecticide chloropyrifos and chloropyrifos-resistant bacteria in Kashmir, where the insecticide is widely-used.

The soil and water samples were collected from different geographical locations of Kashmir having 5 to 10 years history of chlorpyrifos insecticidal spray in the areas.

Soil samples were collected from different fruit and vegetable orchards of Ganderbal and Anantnag districts.

Water samples were collected from Dal and Anchar lakes, as both these water bodies are reported to be polluted with different toxic agents including pesticides.

According to the findings of the study, the researchers have found they could lead to the use of microbial systems for removal of pollutants from contaminated.

Persistent nature of most of the pesticides causes serious environmental concerns and health issues.

There is rampant use of these chemicals such as chloropyrifos in the valley to save crops from fungal diseases and insects.

Chlorpyrifos pesticides easily enter the human food chain and affect more people than carcinogenic air pollutants.

However, scientists have found that the ecosystems of the valley also harbour bacteria that have a natural capacity to degrade pesticide residues, which could prove useful as a remedy for degrading water bodies.

Earlier a research carried out by Dr Shakil Ahmad Romshoo, Head Department of Earth Sciences, Kashmir University revealed that “32% of the lake falls under severe degradation, 48% under medium degradation while as 20% of the lake waters are relatively clean.”

Dal, which has shrunk from 31 to 24 sqkms from 1859 to 2014, faces multiple pressures from unplanned urbanization, high population growth, nutrient load from intensive agriculture and tourism, the research pointed out.

It attributed the degradation of the Dal Lake to increased load of nutrients –mostly nitrogen and phosphorus – which act as fertilisers for weed growth in it.