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AMU scientist makes a rare discovery at Kaziranaga

Aligarh, Jul 13 (Agencies)
Published on 14 Jul. 2011 1:42 AM IST
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A group of researchers of Aligarh Muslim University led by Prof. Wasim Ahmad of department of Zoology, has discovered a new genus of soil-inhabiting nematode from the grasslands in Kaziranaga National Park, Assam. The team’s finding, published in the latest issue of Nematology (an International Journal of Nematology, published from The Netherlands), says newly found nematode is quite unique despite its close resemblance with another closely related genus, Pachydorylaimus with all its species found only in Central America. The present finding bears biogeographical importance. The authors have named this new genus and species as Rhinodorylaimus Kazirangus, because of the flagship animal species, Rhinoceros unicornis, a rare species of rhino restricted to this park only. The characteristic robust odontostyle (feeding apparatus) of R. kazirangus brings it close to some of the rare genera of dorylaim nematodes with very restricted distribution, such as Pachydorylaimus (only in Central America), Metadorylaimus (restricted to Malavi) and Silvalus (a genus which Prof. Ahmad described from the Silent valley way back in 1986 and has so far not been recorded from anywhere else). Dr. Baniyamuddin, Prof. Ahmad’s student, a Post-Doctoral Fellow initiated research on nematode biodiversity of Kaziranga National Park under a DST sponsored Young Scientist Research Project. They have earlier described several new species of soil inhabiting nematodes from Northeast, especially Arunachal Pradesh. Prof. Wasim Ahmad said that the Northeast is at the junction of the Indo-Myanmar global biodiversity hotspot. The biodiversity of this region, especially the below ground diversity have remained completely neglected. The nematodes constitute a major part of below ground diversity and play a very significant role in soil ecosystem because of their key position in soil food web. They feed on most soil organism and are themselves food for many others. In recent years they have become a major tool of soil ecologists in bio-monitoring. “For decades we have been looking only at the above ground diversity of national parks and sanctuaries, neglecting the importance of below ground fauna. There is an urgent need to study the below ground fauna, especially nematodes because of their significant role in nutrient cycling,” he added. Prof. Ahmad has earlier worked on the nematode fauna of national parks in Japan, Singapore and the world’s famous hot spot of biodiversity, the Inbio National Park of Costa Rica.

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