Today’s Topic: Exam Important Current Affairs MCQ’s

These are most possible concepts for IAS Prelims General Studies paper-1 (Current affairs) of UPSC Civil Service exam.

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EveryDay Program List

Sunday- Indian and world Geography

Monday-General issues on Environmental Ecology, bio-diversity and Climate Change

Tuesday- General Science

Wednesday- Indian Polity and Governance

Thursday- History of India and Indian National Movement

Friday- Economic and Social Development

Saturday-Exam Important Current Affairs Topics

 

Today’s Topic: Exam Important Current Affairs Topics

Q1. With reference to the Pradhan mantra Gramin Digital saksharta Abhiyan (PMGDISHA), Consider the following:

  1. It is an Initiative under Digital India programme of the government
  2. Literate people between the age group 21-60 years are qualified for the scheme.
  3. The literacy imparted under the scheme is free of the cost.
  4. The entire family from every eligible rural household will be digitally trained under the scheme.

Select the correct answer using the codes below:

a) 1 only                     b) 2, 3 and 4 only

c) 1 and 3 only           d) 1, 2, 3 and 4

Ans:     C

Explanation:

Pradhan mantra Gramin Digital saksharta Abhiyan (PMGDISHA)

PMGDISHA is expected to be one of the largest digital literacy programmes in the world. Under the scheme, 25 lakh candidates will be trained in the FY 2016-17; 275 lakh in the FY 2017-18; and 300 lakh in the FY 2018-19. To ensure equitable geographical reach, each of the 250,000 Gram Panchayats would be expected to register an average of 200-300 candidates.
Digitally literate persons would be able to operate computers/digital access devices (like tablets, smart phones, etc.), send and receive emails, browse internet, access Government Services, search for information, undertaking cashless transactions, etc and hence use IT to actively participate in the process of nation building.
The implementation of the Scheme would be carried out under the overall supervision of Ministry of Electronics and IT in active collaboration with States/UTs through their designated State Implementing Agencies, District e-Governance Society (DeGS), etc.
Background:
As per the 71st NSSO Survey on Education 2014, only 6% of rural households have a computer. This highlights that more than 15 crore rural households (@ 94% of 16.85 crore households) do not have computers and a significant number of these households are likely to be digitally illiterate. The PMGDISHA being initiated under Digital India Programme would cover 6 crore households in rural areas to make them digitally literate. This would empower the citizens by providing them access to information, knowledge and skills for operating computers / digital access devices.
As the thrust of the Government is on cashless transactions through mobile phones, the course content would also have emphasis on Digital Wallets, Mobile Banking, Unified Payments Interface (UPI), Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) and Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AEPS), etc.

Q2. The government has launched intensified mission Indradhanush (IMI). Consider the following about it

  1. The programme is focused on natals over two years of the age.
  2. It would be reviewed by the cabinet Secretary at the National level
  3. Japanese Encephalitis and Rubella diseases are covered by the scheme.
  4. Inject able Polio Vaccine has been kept out of the scheme for which a separate nationwide

Select the correct answer using the codes below.

a) 1 and 3 only            b) 2 and 4 only

c) 2 and 3 only            d) 1, 2 3 and 4

Ans:     C

Explanation:

Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI)

“Let no child suffer from any vaccine-preventable disease”. Through this programme, Government of India aims to reach each and every child under two years of age and all those pregnant women who have been left uncovered under the routine immunisation programme. The special drive will focus on improving immunization coverage in select districts and cities to ensure full immunization to more than 90% by December 2018. The achievement of full immunisation under Mission Indradhanush to at least 90% coverage was to be achieved by 2020 earlier. With the launch of IMI, achievement of the target has now been advanced.
the Government including the new National Health Policy 2017 which has been unveiled after fifteen years, and is people-centered. “Regulating of the prices of stents has immensely helped a large section of the country by reducing the cost of healthcare on the middle income group and poor families”, the success of the Pradhan Mantri Matritva Suraksha Abhiyaan where private doctors have volunteered to provide free ANC services to pregnant women on the 9th of every month along with government doctors.
Through this mission, we have accelerated our progress towards our target of 90% full immunization coverage, he stated. Earlier the increase in full immunization coverage was 1% per year which has increased to 6.7% per year through the first two phases of ‘Mission Indradhanush’.
With a sharpened focus on high priority districts and urban areas, under IMI, four consecutive immunization rounds will be conducted for 7 days in 173 districts — 121 districts and 17 cities in 16 states and 52 districts in 8 north eastern states — every month between October 2017 and January 2018. Intensified Mission Indradhanush will cover low performing areas in the selected districts and urban areas. These areas have been selected through triangulation of data available under national surveys, Health Management Information System data and World Health Organization concurrent monitoring data. Special attention will be given to unserved/low coverage pockets in sub-centre and urban slums with migratory population. The focus is also on the urban settlements and cities identified under National Urban Health Mission (NUHM).

Intensified Mission Indradhanush will have inter-ministerial and inter-departmental coordination, action-based review mechanism and intensified monitoring and accountability framework for effective implementation of targeted rapid interventions to improve the routine immunization coverage. IMI is supported by 11 other ministries and departments, such as Ministry of Women and Child Development, Panchayati Raj, Ministry of Urban Development, Ministry of Youth Affairs among others. The convergence of ground level workers of various departments like ASHA, ANMs, Anganwadi workers, Zila preraks under National Urban Livelihood Mission (NULM), self-help groups will be ensured for better coordination and effective implementation of the programme.
Intensified Mission Indradhanush would be closely monitored at the district, state and central level at regular intervals. Further, it would be reviewed by the Cabinet Secretary at the National level and will continue to be monitored at the highest level under a special initiative ‘Proactive Governance and Timely Implementation (PRAGATI)’.
This Intensified Mission is driven based on the information received from gap assessment, supervision through government, concurrent monitoring by partners, and end-line surveys. Under IMI, special strategies are devised for rigorous monitoring of the programme. States and districts have developed coverage improvement plans based on gap self-assessment. These plans are reviewed from state to central level with an aim to reach 90% coverage by December 2018.
An appreciation and awards mechanism is also conceived to recognize the districts reaching more than 90% coverage. The criteria includes best practices and media management during crisis. To acknowledge the contribution of the partners/Civil Society Organization (CSOs) and others, Certificate of Appreciation will be given.

Q3. The government has launched the Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme 2017-18 – Series – III. Consider the following about it.

  1. These bonds will be issued by the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on behalf of the Government of India.
  2. Sale of These bonds will be both resident and nonresident Indian (NRI) persons and entities.
  3. There is no minimum or maximum permissible investment limit in the new revised scheme
  4. These bonds could be used as collateral for loans.

Select the correct answer using the codes below

a) 2,3 and 4 only      b) 4 only

c) 1 and 2 only         d) 1,2 and 3 only

Ans:     B

Explanation:

Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme 2017-18 – Series – III

The Bonds will be sold through banks, Stock Holding Corporation of India Limited (SHCIL), designated post offices and recognised stock exchanges viz., National Stock Exchange of India Limited and Bombay Stock Exchange. The features of the Bond are given below:

Sl. No. Item Details
1 Product name Sovereign Gold Bond 2017-18 – Series-III
2 Issuance To be issued by Reserve Bank India on behalf of the Government of India.
3 Eligibility The Bonds will be restricted for sale to resident Indian entities including individuals, HUFs, Trusts, Universities and Charitable Institutions.
4 Denomination The Bonds will be denominated in multiples of gram(s) of gold with a basic unit of 1 gram.
5 Tenor The tenor of the Bond will be for a period of 8 years with exit option from 5th year to be exercised on the interest payment dates.
6 Minimum size Minimum permissible investment will be 1 gram of gold.
7 Maximum limit The maximum limit of subscribed shall be 4 KG for individual, 4 Kg for HUF and 20 Kg for trusts and similar entities per fiscal (April-March) notified by the Government from time to time.  A self-declaration to this effect will be obtained.  The annual ceiling will include bonds subscribed under different tranches during initial issuance by Government and those purchase from the Secondary Market.
8 Joint holder In case of joint holding, the investment limit of 4 KG will be applied to the first applicant only.
9 Issue price Price of Bond will be fixed in Indian Rupees on the basis of simple average of closing price of gold of 999 purity published by the India Bullion and Jewellers Association Limited for the last 3 business days of the week preceding the subscription period. The issue price of the Gold Bonds will be ` 50 per gram less for those who subscribe online and pay through digital mode.
10 Payment option Payment for the Bonds will be through cash payment (upto a maximum of ` 20,000) or demand draft or cheque or electronic banking.
11 Issuance form The Gold Bonds will be issued as Government of India Stocks under GS Act, 2006. The investors will be issued a Holding Certificate for the same. The Bonds are eligible for conversion into demat form.
12 Redemption price The redemption price will be in Indian Rupees based on simple average of closing price of gold of 999 purity of previous 3 business days published by IBJA.
13 Sales channel Bonds will be sold through banks, Stock Holding Corporation of India Limited (SHCIL), designated post offices as may be notified and recognised stock exchanges viz., National Stock Exchange of India Limited and Bombay Stock Exchange, either directly or through agents.
14 Interest rate The investors will be compensated at a fixed rate of 2.50 per cent per annum payable semi-annually on the nominal value.
15 Collateral Bonds can be used as collateral for loans. The loan-to-value (LTV) ratio is to be set equal to ordinary gold loan mandated by the Reserve Bank from time to time.
16 KYC Documentation Know-your-customer (KYC) norms will be the same as that for purchase of physical gold. KYC documents such as Voter ID, Aadhaar card/PAN or TAN /Passport will be required.
17 Tax treatment The interest on Gold Bonds shall be taxable as per the provision of Income Tax Act, 1961 (43 of 1961). The capital gains tax arising on redemption of SGB to an individual has been exempted. The indexation benefits will be provided to long term capital gains arising to any person on transfer of bond
18 Tradability Bonds will be tradable on stock exchanges within a fortnight of the issuance on a date as notified by the RBI.
19 SLR eligibility The Bonds will be eligible for Statutory Liquidity Ratio purposes.
20 Commission Commission for distribution of the bond shall be paid at the rate of 1% of the total subscription received  by  the  receiving offices and receiving offices shall share at least 50% of the commission so received with the agents or sub agents for the business procured through them.

 

Q4. With reference to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) that was awarded the Nobel Peace prize, Consider the following statements.

  1. It is an inter governmental Coalition of non nuclear states.
  2. It passed the “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons” which was later admitted by unanimity in the UN General assembly

Which of the above is/are correct:

a) 1 and 2 only         b) 2 only

c) 2 and 3 only         d) 1, 2 and 3

Ans:     D

Explanation:

International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (abbreviated to ICAN, pronounced  is a global civil society coalition working to promote adherence to and full implementation of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The campaign helped bring about this treaty. ICAN was launched in 2007 and counts 468 partner organizations in 101 countries as of 2017.

The campaign received the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize “for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons

Mission

ICAN seeks to shift the disarmament debate to focus on the humanitarian threat posed by nuclear weapons, drawing attention to their unique destructive capacity, their catastrophic health and environmental consequences, their indiscriminate targeting, the debilitating impact of a detonation on medical infrastructure and relief measures, and the long-lasting effects of radiation on the surrounding area.

Founders of ICAN were inspired by the success of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which was pivotal in bringing about the negotiation of the anti-personnel mine ban treaty in 1997. They sought to establish a similar campaign model.

In September 2006, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, itself awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985, adopted a proposal at its biennial congress in Helsinki, Finland, to launch ICAN globally.ICAN was launched publicly at two events, the first on 23 April 2007 in Melbourne, Australia, where funds had been raised to establish the campaign, and the second on 30 April 2007 in Vienna at a meeting of State parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. National campaigns have been organized in dozens of countries in every region of the world.

The ICAN is made up of 468 partner organizations in 101 countries.The campaign’s staff team is located in Genva, Switzerland, from where it provides ongoing coordination and management of the campaign. Beatrice Fihn is the Executive Director.

An International Steering Group oversees the campaign, with a small management committee consisting of Susi Snyder (President), Josefin Lind (Secretary) and Celine Nahory (Treasurer) responsible for Swiss registered non-profit organisation. Current members of the International Steering Group include the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy, Article 36, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Norwegian Peoples Aid, PAX, Peace Boat, the Latin America Human Security Network (SEHLAC), Swedish Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

Q5. Karyotye refers to

  1. Number and morphological appearance of chromosomes in the nucleus of a eukaryotic cell
  2. Arrangement of mRNAs in the nucleotide of a plant cell

Which of the above is/are correct?

a) 1 only                 b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2      d) None

Ans:     A

Explanation:

Karyotype

A karyotype is simply a picture of a person’s chromosomes. In order to get this picture, the chromosomes are isolated, stained, and examined under the microscope. Most often, this is done using the chromosomes in the white blood cells. A picture of the chromosomes is taken through the microscope. Then, the picture of the chromosomes is cut up and rearranged by the chromosome’s size. The chromosomes are lined up from largest to smallest. A trained cytogeneticist can look for missing or extra pieces of chromosome.

There are 22 numbered pairs of chromosomes called autosomes.  The 23rd pair of chromosomes are the sex chromos

mes.  They determine an individual’s gender.  Females have two X chromosomes, and males have an X and a Y chromosome.

Each chromosome has been assigned a number based on its size. The largest chromosome is chromosome 1. Therefore chromosome 18 is one of the smallest chromosomes in humans.

Q6. Consider the following both the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) project.

  1. It is an International effort to build the world’s Largest radio telescope.
  2. Its receiving stations would extend out to distance of at least three thousand kilometers.
  3. It will be built in Mount Abu, India.

Select the correct answer using the codes below:

a) 1 and 2 only          b) 2 and 3 Only

c) 3 only                   d) 1, 2 and 3 Only

Ans:     A

Explanation:

The Square Kilometer Array (SKA):

The Square Kilometer Array (SKA), which is a large multi radio telescope project under development in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. It utilizes radio astronomy and has receiving stations at a minimum distance of 3,000 kilometers (1,900 mi) from a concentrated central core, enabling it to provide the highest resolution images compared to other sub-disciplines of astronomy. It is being developed in the Southern Hemisphere with cores in South Africa and Australia, where there is least radio interference to observe the Milky Way Galaxy. The project will address some of the most interesting scientific questions in Astrophysics, ranging from characteristics of early Universe to search for intelligent extra-terrestrial life.

The SKA is a global project with twelve member countries. India is a member state where National Centre for Radio Astrophysics, affiliated to the Department of Atomic Energy, Govt. of India is the stakeholder. India is involved in several design work packages of SKA, notably the Central Signal Processing and Telescope Manager System, which will act as the nerve centre behind the functioning of the SKA observatory. Such technological developments are supported by bilateral research initiatives of Dept. of Science & Technology of both the nations.

The SKA project will provide India astronomy community direct access to one of the best experimental radio-astronomy facility in the world. This project will accelerate technological growth of antenna, low noise electronics, analogue and digital signal processing, high-speed computing, massive data storage and mining, image processing, large software systems etc in India. Such projects present great opportunities to Indian scientific community to showcase our technological and scientific capabilities on the global stage.

Q7. Consider the following about Indian Post Payments Bank (IPPB).

 

  1. It will be a Public-private venture partially owned by the government of India via the department of Posts (DoP).
  2. It will focus on low-cost, low-risk, technology led solutions to extend access to formal banking.
  3. All post offices across the country will function as costumer access points for IPPB)

Select the correct answer using the codes below;

a) 1 and 2 only             b) 2 and 3 only

c) 3 only                       d) 1 only

Ans:     B

Explanation:

Indian Post Payments Bank (IPPB):

IPPB, banking at the doorstep will no longer remain a mere slogan, but will become a reality due to huge postal network in the country. Financial Inclusion is critical for the socio-economic development of the country, but there are significant gaps in this area and a large proportion of country’s population remain unbanked or underbanked. IPPB will effectively leverage the ubiquitous post office network with its pan-India physical presence, long experience in cash handling and savings mobilization, backed by the ongoing project of IT-enablement, to bridge this gap in Financial Inclusion.

The objective of IPPB will be public service rather than promoting commercial interests. the IPPB is widely expected to be a game changer for financial inclusion in the country as the USP of this initiative is doorstep banking, particularly in the rural areas.

As mandated by the RBI, the India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) would focus on providing basic financial services such as all kinds of payments; including social security payments, utility bill payments, person to person remittances (both domestic and cross-border), current and savings accounts up to a balance of Rs 1 lac, distribution of insurance, mutual funds, pension products and acting as business correspondent to other banks for credit products especially in rural areas and among the underserved segments of the society.

Set up us a 100% Government of India owned Public Limited Company under the Department of Posts, it will open around 650 branches in district HQ locations. All 1.55 lacs post offices including the 1.39 lac of the rural post offices will be mapped to the IPPB branch at the district headquarter and function as access points for IPPB. IPPB will usher in state of the art internet and mobile banking platforms, digital wallets and use innovative and emerging technologies to catalyse the shift from a cash dominant to a less cash economy.

While many other banks and financial institutions are working on the same theme, the USP of IPPB will be its ability to ease access and handhold the adoption of new age banking and payments instruments among citizen of all walks of life through the delivery by postmen and Grameen Dak sevaks, savings agents and other franchisees who will take banking to door steps. IPPB thus aspires to the most accessible, affordable and trusted bank for the common man with the motto – “No customer is too small, no transaction too insignificant, and no deposit too little”.

Given ‘in principle’ approval by the RBI along with 10 other aspirants on 19th Aug 2015, IPPB received the cabinet’s approval on 1st June, 2016 and was incorporated as on 17th Sept, 2106. Today it became the second payments bank to launch its operations. Having got its final banking license from the RBI on the 20th Jan 2017 it has commenced operations in record time of 10 days in partnership with the Punjab National Bank, after obtaining all necessary approvals and registrations from the RBI, NPCI etc.

Q8. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved two new World Bank supported schemes – Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for livelihood promotion (SANKALP) and skill strengthening for industrial value Enhancement (strive), consider the following with reference to them

  1. Both the schemes are being funded by world bank loan assistance apart from the Central Government assistance
  2. The schemes mark a shift in governments implementation strategy in vocational education and training from inputs to results.

Which of the above is are correct ?

a) 1 only                    b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2         d) None

Ans:     C

Explanation:

SANKALP & STRIVE Schemes

Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP) and Skill Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancement (STRIVE). SANKALP is Rs 4,455 crore Centrally sponsored scheme including Rs. 3,300 crore loan support from World Bank whereas STRIVE is a Rs. 2,200 crore – central sector scheme, with half of the scheme outlay as World bank loan assistance. SANKALP and STRIVE are outcome focused schemes marking shift in government’s implementation strategy in vocational education and training from inputs to results.

There has been a long felt need for a national architecture for promoting convergence, ensuring effective governance and regulation of skill training and catalysing industry efforts in vocational training space. The two schemes shall address this need by setting up national bodies for accreditation & certification which shall regulate accreditation and certification in both long and short term Vocational Education and Training (VET). The architecture shall help, for the first time in the history of vocational education in India, to converge the efforts of various central, state and private sector institutions thereby avoiding duplication of activities and bringing about uniformity in vocational training thus, creating better impact.
Both the schemes are aimed at institutional reforms and improving quality & market relevance of skill development training programs in long and short term VET. In past many government schemes such as Vocational Training Improvement Project (VTIP) have focussed on strengthening ITIs and over 1600 ITIs have already been modernized under the schemes. STRIVE scheme shall incentivize ITIs to improve overall performance including apprenticeship by involving SMEs, business association and industry clusters. The schemes aim to develop a robust mechanism for delivering quality skill development training by strengthening institutions such as State Skill Development Missions (SSDMs), National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), Sector Skill Councils (SSCs), ITIs and National Skill Development Agency (NSDA) etc. The schemes shall support universalization of National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) including National Quality Assurance Framework (NQAF) across the skill development schemes of central and state governments thus ensuring standardization in skill delivery, content and training output.
The schemes shall provide the required impetus to the National Skill Development Mission, 2015 and its various sub missions. The schemes are aligned to flagship Government of India programs such as Make in India and Swachhta Abhiyan and aim at developing globally competitive workforce for domestic and overseas requirements. To this end, over 700 industry led institutions are being set up for providing job oriented skill training to lakhs of aspirants. An innovative challenge fund model has been employed to select and support proposals to set up such institutions in identified sectors and geographies. 66+ India International stalling institutions are being promoted to focus upon skill training as per global standards for overseas placements. Over 30,000 aspirants shall be trained in IISCs and get certificates from International Awarding Bodies (lABs). Upgrading 500 ITIs, as model ITIs across India and improving their industry connect, is also envisaged by ushering in reforms such as on-line examination, centralised admission, improving efficiency and transparency in the system.
National Policy of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015 highlighted the need of quality assurance measures such as building a pool quality trainers and assessors. SANKALP envisages setting up of Trainers and Assessors academies with self-sustainable models. Over 50 such academies are to be set up in priority sectors. DOT, MSDE has already made significant progress in this direction by setting up a number of Institutes for Training of Trainers (IToT) in public and private sector, offering training in over 35 trades. The schemes shall leverage such institutions for training the trainers in both long & short term VET thereby bringing about convergence. Additional trainer academies shall be set up on the basis of identified sectoral and geographical gaps.
Greater decentralization in skill planning will be ensured by institutional strengthening at the State level which includes setting up of State Skill Development Missions (SSDMs) and allowing states to come up with District and State level Skill Development Plans (DSDP/SSDP) and design skill training interventions to suit the local needs. SANKALP aims at enhancement of inclusion of marginalized communities including women. Scheduled Castes (SCs), Schedule Tribes (STs) and Persons with Disabilities (PWD) to provide skill training opportunities to the underprivileged and marginalised section of the society.
The schemes will develop a skilling ecosystem that will support the country’s rise in the Ease of Doing Business index by steady supply of skilled workforce to the industry. The schemes will also work towards increasing the aspirational value of skill development programs by increasing the marketability of skills, through better industry connect and quality assurance.

Q9.Consider the following about Cryo-electron microscopy

  1. It refers to the microscopy of frozen objects
  2. It can be used to study objects greater than a nanometer.

Which of the above is/are correct?

a) 1 only                 b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2      d) None

Ans:     A

Explanation:

Definition. Cryoelectron microscopy is a method for imaging frozen-hydrated specimens at cryogenic temperatures by electron microscopy. Specimens remain in their native state without the need for dyes or fixatives, allowing the study of fine cellular structures, viruses and protein complexes at molecular resolution.

Q10. With reference to Cyanotoxis, consider the following statements.

  1. They are Produced by viruses
  2. They remain undetected at the micro-level even by a bio-sensor
  3. Microcystins is a cyanotoxtin. They can be found in water bodies like oceans.

Select the correct answer using the codes below.

a) 2 and 3 only             b) 1 and 4 only

c) 3 and 4 only             d) 1,2,3 and 4

Ans:     C

Explanations:

Cyanotoxins

Cyanotoxins are toxins produced by bacteria called cyanobcteria (also known as blue-green algae). Cyanobacteria are found almost everywhere, but particularly in lakes and in the ocean where, under certain conditions, they reproduce exponentially to form blooms. Blooming cyanobacteria can produce cyanotoxins in such concentrations that they poison and even kill animals and humans. Cyanotoxins can also accumulate in other animals such as fish and shellfish, and cause poisonings such as shellfish poisoning.

Among cyanotoxins are some of the most powerful natural poisons known, including poisons which can cause rapid death by respiratory failure. The toxins include potent neurotoxins, hepatotoxins, cytotoxins, and endotoxins. Despite the similarity in name, they are not cyanides. Recreational exposure to cyanobacteria can result in gastro-intestinal and hay fever symptoms or pruritic skin rashes. Exposure to the cyanobacteria neurotoxin BMAA may be an environmental cause of neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS, Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease. There is also an interest in the military potential of biological neurotoxins such as cyanotoxins, which “have gained increasing significance as potential candidates for weaponization.

The first published report that blue-green algae or cyanobacteria could have lethal effects appeared in Nature in 1878. George Francis described the algal bloom he observed in the estuary of the Murray River in Australia, as “a thick scum like green oil paint, some two to six inches thick.” Wildlife which drank the water died rapidly and terribly. Most reported incidents of poisoning by microalgal toxins have occurred in freshwater environments, and they are becoming more common and widespread. For example, thousands of ducks and geese died drinking contaminated water in the midwestern United States. In 2010, for the first time, marine mammals were reported to have died from ingesting cyanotoxins.

Cyanobacteria

Cyanobacteria are found almost everywhere; in oceans, lakes and rivers as well as on land. They flourish in Arctic and Antarctic lakes, hotsprings and wastewater treatment plants. They even inhabit the fur of polar bears, to which they impart a greenish tinge. Cyanobacteria produce potent toxins, but they also produce helpful bioactivecompounds, including substances with antitumour, antiviral, anticancer, antibiotic and antifungal activity, UV protectants and specific inhibitors of enzymes.

 

 

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