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Below is a round up of news from or about South Asia for the period 11–24 June 2009

GM mosquito under trial in India
A genetically engineered mosquito is being tested at the International Institute of Biotechnology and Toxicology (IIBAT) at Padappai near Chennai. Researchers at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom, developed sterile Aedes egyptii mosquitoes to fight disease-causing ones, in an effort to control dengue fever and chikungunya virus. India's Department of Biotechnology is monitoring the trials. More>>

Nepal crop council launches farm support drive
The Nepal Agricultural Research Council has launched a farm support drive to help its crop scientists interact with farmers and raise awareness about its new crop varieties. The scientists will also encourage farmers to use more efficient farming technologies and promote agro-biodiversity by opting for a combination of crops, livestock and fisheries. More>>

Biodiesel from Calophyllum tree
The oil of the Calophyllum inophyllum tree — native to India's southern coast — can be a source of biodiesel, say scientists. They have developed a three-stage process for producing biodiesel from the tree's non-edible honne oil and find that the yield under optimal conditions is 89 per cent. More>>

Malaria enzyme hideout located
Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, have found the location of the enzyme that helps the malaria parasite break down haemoglobin and cause malaria-related illness such as fever. The team reports that the enzyme, ferochelatase, is located in the parasite's mitochondria that provide it with energy. Malaria causes an estimated one million deaths globally each year. More>>

Cheap, rapid, sensitive test for glycoprotein
A rapid, sensitive and cheap test to detect glycoproteins — molecules consisting of a carbohydrate plus a protein that play important roles in the body — in biology research is on the cards for the first time, say scientists from an Indian biotechnology firm. They report genetically engineering a test agent using a 'human granulocyte colony stimulating factor' — a hormone that stimulates the bone marrow to produce stem cells. Their studies show this new agent could easily detect different forms of proteins. More>>

Marine bacterium mops up heavy metals
Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology have identified a marine bacterium that can help mop up heavy metals from contaminated solutions. The bacterium produces a susbtance known as a biosurfactant that stabilises an emulsion of the heavy metals and helps remove them from heavy metal containing solutions easily. More>>

Power from chocolate industry wastes, other sludges
Scientists in India have created a microbial fuel cell — a device that uses microbes to convert chemical energy into electrical energy — that removes sludge from chocolate industry waste waters.Meanwhile, another group from the Indian Institute of Technology reports details of their new microbial fuel cell that generates power from industry wastewater sludge and its potential use for wastewater treatment. More>>

Acacia seeds stabilise coal-water slurries
Seeds and outer fruit cover from Acacia trees common across South Asia can help stabilise coal-water slurries in the coal industry. The seeds and outer fruit cover produce substances called saponins that foam a soap-like substance when mixed with water, and makes a finer suspension of coal particles in water. Coal-water slurries, typically containing 55–70 per cent coal, make coal explosion-proof and less polluting. More>>

Norway to increase renewable energy investment in India
Norway plans to boost its investment in India in the area of renewable energy, including solar and hydropower. Norway's Ambassador to India Ann Ollestad also says that South Asian countries could collaborate on hydropower and other forms of renewable energy. 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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