Prologue: I am having one of my most memorable experiences with the PrakashLab: Conducting foldscope workshops under the aegis of the DBT in India. The current post is inspired by a workshop we had at the Assam agriculutural University, Khanapara. Assam is a state in the north-east of India and has several biodiversity hotspots.
If I told my ornithologist friend that I was at the Dipor Bil Bird Sanctuary, which is known to harbor over 200 species of birds and don’t remember if I saw an egret, he would ask me to take-a-jump into the lake (Bil in the local Assamese) and not look him in the eye ever. So I am not going to do that, but I will instead tell him that this freshwater lake is also a paradise for the microcosmos; one which unlike the bird diversity of this sanctuary, is mostly unexplored, and is likely to be a never-ending source of discovery and entertainment for microcosmos enthusiasts. This is now making me immensely envious of the foldscope community living in this area. Perhaps this could be our first foldscope citizen project—- Mapping the microcosmos of Dipor Bil— and in that spirit here is a flavor of the great diversity that we saw in this lake. The sample was procured from the south-eastern part of the lake, on our way to the workshop. In the spirit of being systematic, I am serially listing the species we saw.. But first, here is a view of whats out there.
Now onwards to a more systematic survey. I am hoping that we can make this a combined post where with a small start from the Prakashlab team, we can inspire the local foldscopers to go back to the lake (coordinates provided above) and systematically map its microcosmos biodiversity. Going by what we saw, there are going to be a few of them.
- Didinium: A ciliate popularly known to the world as the Paramecium predator, a kind of T-Rex of the ciliate world predating on other ciliates. Didinium has two levels of ciliary bands. One near the oral apparatus and another at the opposite end. Besides many interesting predator-prey interactions and cell division studies, very little is known of its life-cycle in the context of the Dipor Bil Sanctuary.