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Daily Current Affairs – 2020

Topic: For Prelims and Mains

OsMed 15 a

10th Sep 2020

Why in News?

The scientists at the National Institute of Plant Genome Research (NIPGR) in New Delhi have identified a gene that is involved in regulating the size of rice grain.

Important Facts:

  • The new development represents a new approach towards developing rice varieties that produce bigger and consequently heavier grains.
  • The researchers had found in earlier studies that expression of a particular gene, OsMed15a, was higher at different stages of seed development.
  • The observation led them to explore its role further. They scanned 509 different rice genotypes and found that the nucleotide sequences of the OsMed15agene varied depending on size of grain.
  • OsMed15awas also found to play major role in regulating the expression of three other genes — GW2GW5 and DR11I- which determine grain size and weight.
  • When Researchers suppressed the expression of OsMed15ain transgenic plants using RNAi technology, the seeds became smaller and wider.

About the Transgenic plants:

Transgenic plants are the ones, whose DNA is modified using genetic engineering techniques. The aim is to introduce a new trait to the plant which does not occur naturally in the species. A transgenic plant contains a gene or genes that have been artificially inserted.

About the RNA interference (RNAi):

It is a biological process in which RNA molecules inhibit gene expression or translation, by neutralizing targeted mRNA molecules.

Historically, RNAi was known by other names, including co-suppression, post-transcriptional gene silencing (PTGS) and quelling.

 

Black Carbon

Why in News?

According to a recent study published, black carbon particles emitted by the vehicular exhaust and coal-fired power plants, have been detected on the fetus-facing side of the placenta.

This is expected to affect the overall development of the unborn baby.

 Findings:

  1. Concentration of black carbon particles was highest in the placentas of women who are most exposed to airborne pollutants in their daily life.
  2. Inhalation of these particles by the mother gets translocated from the mothers’ lungs to the placenta, resulting in life-long changes to the development of the baby along with permanently damaging the lung tissues.
  3. The link between exposure to dirty air and increased cases of miscarriages, premature births, and low birth weights which in turn increases the chances for diabetes, asthma, stroke, heart diseaseand a lot of other conditions, has been established in this study.

Black Carbon?

Black carbon consists of pure carbon in several linked forms. It is formed through the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biofuel, and biomass, and is emitted in both anthropogenic and naturally occurring soot.

Harmful effects of BC:

Black carbon (BC) is a pollutant known to aggravate breathing disorders. Because BC particles strongly absorb solar and terrestrial radiation and heats up the atmosphere it can upset the monsoon system. If deposited on snow, it could accelerate the heating of snow and quicken the melting of glaciers.

Bharat 22, an ETF

Why in News?

The Finance Ministry has launched Bharat 22, an ETF. Bharat 22 comprise of 22 stocks including those of central public sector enterprises (CPSEs), public sector banks (PSBs) and its holdings under the Specified Undertaking of Unit Trust of India (SUUTI).

It will help to speed up Government’s disinvestment programme budgeted to raise a record Rs 72,500 crore in the FY 2018.

Exchange-traded funds (ETFs):

  • ETFs are Index Funds
  • An ETF is a basket of stocks that reflects the composition of an Index, like S&P CNX Nifty or BSE Sensex.
  • They are listed and traded on exchanges like stocks.
  • They enable investors to gain broad exposure to entire stock markets in different Countries and specific sectors with relative ease, on a real-time basis and at a lower cost than many other forms of investing.
  • ETFs trading value is based on the net asset value of the underlying stocks that it represents
  • They are similar to mutual funds in a certain manner but are more liquid as they can be sold quickly on stock exchanges like shares.

FACTS FOR PRELIMS

Elephants, Not Commodities:

World Animal Protection on the eve of World Elephant Day(August 12) has released its report titled “Elephants, Not Commodities”.

Facts:

About the report: The report compares research spanning a decade of elephant tourism assessing venues across Thailand, India, Laos, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Malaysia.

Key Takeaways:

  • India is home to the second-highest number of elephants used in tourism in Asia.
  • However, out of the 21 venues housing 509 elephants in India, the report has found that 45%(225) of the elephants were kept in severely inadequate conditions.

Additional Facts:

World Animal Protection:It is an international non-profit animal welfare organization founded in 1981.

  • It was formerly known as The World Society for the Protection of Animals(WSPA).
  • Vision: A world where animal welfare matters and animal cruelty has ended.
  • Headquarters: London, UK.

 

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