Marcus Aurelius once rightly exclaimed that, “Nothing has such power to broaden the mind as the ability to investigate systematically and truly all that comes under thy observation in life.” Same can be applied to Science, as it is very much based on human’s observation. Experiencing nature at its finest self can be a therapy at a scientific level. Translation of our scientific knowledge is desirable as it gives us an insight to our formed hypothesis.
The University of Hyderabad (UoH) has always encouraged such educational provisions thus; the UPE-II governing body sponsored this extraordinary expedition to Sikkim and the nearby places. Prof. Ch. Venkata Ramana, Department of Plant Sciences, School of Life Sciences, UoH along with five students in collaboration with the Sikkim University under the supervision of Prof. J. P. Tamang under took the field trip. The field trip to Sikkim and the nearby places was an enlightening one as it allowed us to observe and understand nature at its crudest form.
The Himalayan region is considered as one of the most pristine and untouched part of the Indian sub-continent. It houses diverse and stratified ecosystem which are highly endemic and rare. Understanding the composition of this environment at the microbial level is crucial as it reflects the most important stabilisers of the hotspot areas of the region.
The complex understanding of the microbial diversity is negligible and the study done is less as compared to the other parts of India. Therefore, this expedition was altogether focused in the collection of the wholesome samples which would give us an overall knowledge about the microbial wealth amassed in the region. This expedition was planned in the month of May, 2017 as it is considered favourable. The members travelled all the way from Hyderabad to Sikkim via road. A total of 5600 kilometres were covered in the entire journey, many state borders were crossed in the process. This way they were able to stratify our sample in accordance to our various parameters.
The expedition was for a period of twenty five days starting from 15th of May, 2017. Altogether 350 samples were collected. Various places were chosen for the purpose of sampling. Hot sulphur springs were abundantly present at Bakreshwar, Yumthang Valley and Rajgir. Huge plant diversity was seen at the Lachung and Yumthang Valley in Sikkim. Every nook and corner had a new form of life breathing. The mountains were snow capped and flowers were carelessly growing all over. It was aesthetically beautiful and sublime. The main highlight was sampling at the Zero point in Sikkim which is at the height of 17,000 feet. Less oxygen percentage made the collection more tedious.
A short one day trekking was done on the Lachung valley, therefore getting a chance of being in one with nature. The trekking ended at a point with a waterfall streaming down the steep mountain. Our eyes were continuously feasting on the mighty snowy mountains and crystal white river all throughout. Innumerous samples were collected from the above places like soil sediment, river sediments, lichens, decomposing matter, sulphur rich water and orchid plants.
On the way back, various places in Orissa were visited. Chandnipur beach, Devkund forest area were visited in Balasore. Chilka lake were extensively sampled for the metagenome. Vishakapatnam and its beaches were explored namely Bheemli and Rushikonda. From here, sea weeds, algae, purple coloured sea sand, rock lichen, soil sediments were collected. They had the most memorable scientific expedition to the faraway located places of Sikkim, Darjeeling, West Bengal, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. We could see every life form breathing at its natural habitat. Our quest for the science and knowledge was quenched in this expedition. It was like an awakening call to save and preserve our mother nature. Green environment is essential for the progressive growth of science and humanity.
They had one of the most enriching experiences and could feel our mind gradually opening to the new avenues in science. It was becoming more perceptive and they consider their selves fortunate enough to experience nature at its best. In addition, they would also like to thank their co-Professors and the supporting bodies for giving us an opportunity.
– by Anusha Rai, Ph.D Scholar, School of Life Sciences