Biodiversity – A gift of nature
All life on earth have been segregated as plants , animals, birds and microorganisms, based on taxanomy. A vast variety is observed in these taxanomic categories, which at present is estimated to contain 1.75 million identified species. Some scientists however have hypothesized an estimate of 13 million species some of which may be yet to be identified. Biodiversity may also exist within a species due to variance of genetic material that results from extensive breeding of crops and livestock in geographical isolation. Such kind of genetic variance is a result of mutations in the DNA structure of chromosomes, which carry the information for inheritance of traits.
As different species of organisms provide a big picture of diversity of life on this planet, microbial diversity forms the last piece that completes this puzzle. Although microbes have been existent since the beginning of life on Earth, the acknowledgment of their significance was quite late in the journey of evolution. Microbes with their biochemical machinery have played an intricate part in the survival of different species by improving their adaptive skills. Similarly, many anthropological activities related to agriculture and industry have been greatly influenced by microbial diversity. A few good examples of this would be the use of plant growth promoting bacteria in fields, use of antibiotic producing bacteria in pharmaceutical industries and many more.
Nature has always haunted us with problems that remind us of the imbalance our ignorance has created. Now and then we rush back to Nature’s store for cure of illnesses or to seek for stronger crops which are resistant to abiotic and biotic stress. Therefore protection of biodiversity is of utmost importance to preserve the ecological balance and restore the biological resources that have laid the foundations for our civilization. The International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) is commemorated by the United Nations on 22nd May to increase our understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues. It is our responsibility to preserve Nature’s treasure and respect the biodiversity of the region we visit. The Native Americans had once very famously said,
‘We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.’