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Below is a round up of news from or about South Asia for the period 19 February–4 March 2009.

Unique bird flu virus isolated in India
The bird flu virus isolated during an outbreak in poultry in northeast India in 2007 is different from the more common virus recorded in earlier outbreaks, a detailed genetic analysis shows. The emergence of the new strain calls for improved surveillance in the country for newer forms of the virus, and raises concerns over the emergence of more deadly new strains and the possibility of a pandemic. More>>

Rare goat from Kashmir to be cloned
Scientists in India plan to clone a rare goat from Kashmir, source of the world-famous pashmina wool, to boost trade in the pashmina wool industry. The World Bank-aided project will help scientists clone the goat, using cells from the animal's ears. More>>

Ocean iron experiment needs more debate
The Indo–German Antarctic mission on ocean fertilisation experiment (LOHAFEX), launched in January this year, needs more discussion regarding India's involvement, marine scientists told an international symposium on marine ecosystems in Kochi. LOHAFEX, aims to test the effect of introducing iron into the upper ocean — known as iron fertilisation — on the ecology and carbon uptake in the Southern Ocean. More>>

Biodiesel surrogates give good performance
Scientists in India have produced synthetic versions of biodiesel compounds — useful for understanding processes and improving the performance of biodiesel — that have proved to be stable and conforming to international biodiesel and diesel standards. Diesel blends containing five per cent and ten per cent of the artificially produced biodiesel molecules also meet Indian biodiesel criteria. More>>

Three new science projects for Bhutan
Bhutan plans to establish three new science projects with financial assistance from neighbouring India. These include creating high-yielding pulse varieties, and the establishment of seed testing laboratories and a rainwater harvesting structure. India will provide training facilities for the projects. More>>

The Maldives to establish science society
The Maldives has set up a science society aiming to foster interest in and awareness of science through organised activities. The society is taking part in several global science communication projects, including astronomy and the study of coral reefs. More>>

Fly ash-loving microbes
Scientists have identified bacteria that thrive on barren, metal-rich fly ash dumps — produced during coal combustion — that are common near huge power plants. These bacteria normally colonise plant roots in a mutually beneficial relationship and could prove useful in vegetating such barren dumps and turning them into ecologically and economically productive habitats, a study shows. More>>

Biogas from carpenters' rosewood waste
Indian scientists have designed a system that uses wastes from rosewood (Dalbergia sissoo), a popular wood in carpentry, to generate biogas. More>>

Fires a major cause of Indian women's death
Fires are a major cause of death in Indian women and are a major public health concern, a study says. These include kitchen accidents, self-immolation and domestic violence. Identifying populations at risk is essential to establish interventions rapidly. More>>

Compiled by T. V. Padma. Additional reporting by Papri Sri Raman.

If you would like to suggest a story for this news in brief, please contact the South Asia Regional Coordinator T. V. Padma ([email protected]).

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