Wednesday, March 8, 2017



For those who might not be very familiar with the term “Polyploidy”. It simply means the presence of more than two sets of Chromosomes in a living Organism, whether Plant or Animal.
To illustrate, humans with 46 Chromosomes, have 2n or two sets of Chromosomes, one set inherited from each parent. This is Diploid condition. If only one set is present, the condition is called Haploid (n).
Thus, Polyploidy can be 3n, 4n —————12n and so on. The type of Polyploidy and the amount of Polyploidy largely depends on the survival capacities of the Polyploid Organism, so created. If it is able to survive one generation of Polyploid DNA (Genes) and can reproduce, it is considered viable and will probably propagate further into the future.

But, the phenomenon of Polyploidy has been going on for hundreds of millions of years, without any apparent human intervention. This employs that most Polyploidy in the nature is due to environmental factors and thus may be considered a necessary part of evolution and evolutionary chain, for the creation of new and better species of plants and animals.
The natural phenomenon of Polyploidy is most apparent in the evolution of angiosperms. Most of the early angiosperms evolved from their Gymnosperm ancestors through this important evolutionary process of Polyploidy due to the changing environmental conditions prevalent at that time. These changing environmental conditions are given in detail in my book on evolution “Theory of Stability: Origin and Evolution of Life”.
But, for the present discussion it is important to understand that as of today, humans mainly use two agents Colchicine and Oryzalin to induce Polyploidy in Plants. This is mainly done on grain and food producing plants. In many cases, it has been found to have advantageous results but in many the results have been very poor. But, this is an expected outcome.
But my emphasis in this article is on the fact that all the Polyploidy and Evolution and new Species creation, which nature has done over hundreds of millions of years has nether used Colchicine nor Oxyzalin.
Thus, it is my surmise that it was the changing environmental conditions which induced Polyploidy and hence new species formation, mostly in plants but in animals as well.
I attribute the lower levels of nature induced Polyploidy in animals to several factors.
For one, animal DNA is more delicate and hence less likely to survive big changes in DNA like Polyploidy.
The second reason for less nature induced polyploidy in animals is tha fact that animals are mobile and can manoeuvre themselves into more safe positions, protecting themselves from harsh environmental conditions and hence DNA changes, particularly big DNA changes like Polyploidy.
The third reason for less nature induced Polyploidy in animals is that animals have an elaborate, delicate, intricate, complex system of reproduction, which unlike in plants, is very specific and hence chances of any large scale DNA change like Polyploidy in them are much reduced.
The fourth and very important reason for less nature induced Polyploidy in animals is that animals live in homes, whether burrows, nests, Caves etc. This protects them from coming in direct contact with sunlight for any prolonged period of time.
This fourth factor is very important from the point of view of this discussion. Sunlight contains many types of wavelengths of which ultraviolet rays ( wavelength of 10 nanometers to 380 nanometers) are very important due to their impact on the DNA. Ultraviolet (UV) rays have the maximum capacity in sunlight reaching Earth, to cause damage to DNA and DNA changes including mutations and Polyploidy.
Because, animals can more than partially protect themselves from UV rays by hiding in their homes, going under shade, going out after sunset etc., UV rays have less chance of causing Polyploidy in animals.
Because Plants cannot move, they cannot shade themselves from UV rays and have over a period of hundreds of millions of years have been exposed to the UV rays of sunlight, eventually leading to Polyploidy, causing the formation and propagation of new species. Many more times than in animals.
But the exposure of Earth’s surface to UV rays has not always been uniform. UV rays react with oxygen in higher atmosphere to form Ozone (O3), which form an envelope around the Earth. This Ozone envelope stops between 70 to 90% of UV rays reaching the Earth’s surface.
But, from time to time, the Ozone envelope is breached. This can be due to natural causes like Volcano eruptions (release of CO, CO2, H2S etc.) , meteorite impacts, sun-flares etc. But, it can now be due to human impact as well. Large scale release of industrial gases like hexafluoride, Carbon mono oxide, Carbon di oxide by human respiration has damaged this Ozone envelope at many places. This causes Ozone holes and allow penetrating UV rays to reach Earth’s surface.
These UV rays can and are causing DNA damage to humans as well as to plants.

I have seen examples of UV ray damage to plants in hilly areas, where because of the thin atmosphere (>2 Km height above sea level), Ozone envelope damage, some plants have been visibly damaged and have caused visible mutagenic damage. I was able to observe both the normal plant and the mutagenic plant . The UV rays had caused damage and Polyploidy in the mutagenic plant.
There was slight difference between the location of the normal and mutagenic plant. The normal plants were located in a forest with lots of shade. The mutagenic plant was almost constantly exposed to sunlight during daytime. This exposed it to more UV rays and hence the Polyploidy I observed in it.
The Plant in question was Banj Plant or Banj Oak (Quercus Leucotriophora A.comus) or Himalayan oak or BlackJack Oak,
The male inflorescence  (catkins) are borne on broad tips and the tiny round female flowers are borne on the base of the leaves. The fruits are orange-tan, marble sized acorns.
Having observed the above plant in two different locations ( though very close to each other) and two different conditions, one in which Polyploidy was apparent and another which was normal, it became apparent to me that UV rays in the sunlight are the reason for the Polyploidy I am observing.
But, more important is the consideration that if natural UV rays can still induce Polyploidy in robust plants today, than it means several things to humans.
The first thing is apparent, which is that our Ozone layer envelope has been compromised a great deal and we have to take active steps to protect against the harmful effects of the infiltrating UV rays.
The second thing is that, we will have to take International measures to minimise the damage to the Ozone layer by International agreements minimising Ozone damaging chemicals being released into the atmosphere.
But, from research point of view, this also means that UV rays can be used in the Laboratory to cause selective Polyploidy in certain plants, particularly grain and food plants.
With growing population and dwindling returns from the land, food shortages are a thing of the present. We need food plants, which grow fast, give more fruits, survive better, require less resources, particularly water and fertilisers and can continue to supply us with the fruits and grains , season after season. If they are resistant to pests and other diseases of plants, all the better.
In this regard, my discovery that UV rays are still capable of causing DNA damage and Polyploidy becomes very important.
Under properly controlled laboratory conditions, we can expose a sample food plant to different doses and strengths of UV rays. Those that result in DNA change or Polyploidy can be selectively propagated to see their virtues and if found favourable, can be produced again by similar doses of UV rays or by reproductive propagation. 
The same method can be repeated on other food plants as well. Thus, in a short time, we can have all food plants, which are good for survival, give great food yield and require less resources and maintenance. 
This is good for mankind!
But a word of Caution, the work has to be performed sincerely and truthfully, without any commercial bias and absolutely the whole research work and data about each plant should be put in front of the public. This is ethical experimenting.


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