Many countries adopt animals as their national symbols. While the elephant is often considered synonymous with India, officials have the idea of adopting a microorganism too.
Along with various animals and birds, which form part of the national symbols of India, the Indian government is considering adopting a microbe to join the extensive set of life forms which form part of the Indian collective identify.
The official symbols of India are the tiger as its national animal, banyan as the national tree, peacock as the national bird, lotus as the national flower, elephant as the national heritage animal and Gangetic Dolphin as the national aquatic animal.
According to The Times of India, the Centre for Environment Education (CEE) and the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), aim to select a microbe to represent India.
The types of microorganisms being considered are:
Lactobacillus: some Lactobacillus species are used for the production of yogurt, cheese, sauerkraut, pickles, beer, wine, cider, kimchi, cocoa, and other fermented foods, as well as animal feeds, such as silage.
Rhizobium: Rhizobia are soil bacteria that fix nitrogen after becoming established inside root nodules of legumes. They are vital of the cycle of life in relation to agriculture.
Blue mold: This is a major food spoilage organism. Blue mold can cause severe damage to susceptible tobacco plants in many parts of the world. It is a type of parasite that must have living tobacco tissue in order to grow.
Wild Yeast: This refers to the types of yeast used for baking, which is essential for food production. The most common type of yeast is S. cerevisiae, which is used in baking as a leavening agent, where it converts the fermentable sugars present in dough into the gas carbon dioxide.
Bacteriophage T4: Bacteriophages are important viruses which attack bacteria and, when harmful bacteria are present, bacteriophages play an important role in fighting diseases. The T-4 bacteriophage is a bacteriophage that infects harmful E. coli bacteria.
Spirogyra: This is a filamentous green algae. It is common to freshwater areas and gives water a green tinge.
E. coli: Escherichia coli is a bacteria. Some strains can be very harmful to human health and it is associated with food borne diseases. The bacterium is commonly found in the human gut.
Mucor: Mucor is a common term applied to thousands of different molds. The color is typically white to beige or grey and it is very fast-growing. One of the foods affected by mucor is bread.
The reason for doing so, according to the CEE, is primarily educational and to create awareness among people about the importance of microorganisms.
The decision will be made through an educational project which is moving through different schools and colleges throughout India, the multi-coach 'Science Express-Biodiversity Special'. People are also able to vote on-line.
The microbe currently with the most votes is Lactobacillus, which is an important bacteria used in food production.