- Polluted Ganga river has a healing touch
- Presence of bacteriophages in Ganga waters
- Phage therapy for Multiple-Drug Resistance
The mysterious healing
power of the Ganges water, or "Brahm Dravya", has been proven to have the
"healing touch" and self purifying properties. Bacteriophages, the viruses that
eat bacteria, were found in the waters of Ganga. These viruses can be used in
phage therapy, a natural alternative to antibiotics
The waters of Ganga have also shown to
retain high amounts of dissolved oxygen, despite the pollution. This is the
reason that even the polluted Ganga waters is still
being considered holy.
‘Bacteriophages, the viruses that infect bacteria, were found in the waters of Ganga. These viruses can be used in phage therapy, a natural alternative to antibiotics.’
Microbiologists from the
Chandigarh-based institute of Microbial Technology (IMTECH) studied that
bacteria in the Ganges waters are non-putrefying. This means that they do not
decompose the waste that is thrown in the river.
The scientists studied
the fresh water sedimentary metagenome-viromes and found that apart from the
bacteriophages and the non-putrefying bacteria the waters also contain the
double stranded DNA viruses.
Dr. Shanmugam Mayilraj,
Senior Principal Scientist at the CSIR-Institute of Microbial Technology
Chandigarh, has quoted in The Indian Science Journal that they have identified
20-25 interesting viruses.
These viruses were never
reported earlier and are found to be active against certain clinical isolates.
This makes them useful against multi-drug resistant
Some of the MDR infections include:
A bacteriophage is a
virus that infects a bacterium and replicates within the bacterium and destroys
it. Bacteriophages have been used as an alternative to antibiotics against
infectious diseases for over 90 years.
Microbes of the Ganges
Various types of
bacterial groups were found to be present in the samples of the waters of Ganga
and the sediment.
The sample of Ganges
waters contained bacterial groups:
The sediment also
contained some different strains:
(bacteriophage) groups found in the waters are:
The water samples were
collected before monsoon and after monsoon from the Haridwar to Varanasi
stretch of the Ganga River. This stretch is known to be the highly polluted
region of the Ganga Basin.
Details of the Study:
- Started in November 2014
- Commissioned by federal Water Resources and Ganga
- Headed by Kum. Uma Bharati
- Conducted by IMTECH
- Other participants are National Botanical Research
Institute, Indian Institute Toxicology Research and Central Institute of
Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (all in Lukhnow)
The virus found in the
waters and sediments mimic bacteria in the sediment of the river and eventually
eat them up. The bacteriophages also feed on the decomposing bodies and other
waste that are dumped into the river.
One of the earliest
studies on the waters of Ganga was done by E Hanbury Hankin, a British
physician. He reported that cholera microbes died within three hours in the
Ganga water, while they survived in distilled water even after 48 hours.
Ganga, the Holy River:
The Ganga originates from
the western Himalayas and flows through various states of
northern India. Throughout its journey, it is joined by various tributaries
like Gomti, Kosi and Yamuna.
In Hindu mythology,
Ganga is considered to have descended from the heavens for the purpose of
redemption of the dead.
Pollution in the Ganga:
The various sources of
pollution in Ganga include:
- Sewage from many cities along the Basin
- Industrial wastes
- Religious offerings, often in plastic containers
- Cremation of the deceased, containing bones and ashes
- Un-cremated dead bodies
- Illegal mining in the Ganga river bed
The IMTECH team would
now collect water samples from other rivers like Yamuna and Narmada for a
comparative study to find why the Ganga waters are special.
This discovery of
bacteriophages in the river Ganga can bridge the gap between its reputation of
self-purifying abilities and its potential disease-fighting abilities.
- Bacteriophages and the Mystery of the Ganges - (https:explorecuriocity.org/Explore/ArticleId/2530/bacteriophages-and-the-mystery-of-the-ganges-2530.aspx)