Animal Products

Hi,

Today, we are going to discuss about what we take from animals and how we extract it from them. Knowing these can bail you out of many diseases!

FIBERS FROM ANIMALS

Sheep (Ovus aries)

Sheep or scientifically known as Ovus Aries  is a wool yielding animal from the cold regions in the world. China has the most stock of sheep with 136.4 million stocks. There is a total of 1,078.2 million stocks in the world. Predation for the sheep by wolves, lions, etc. and Diseases like the orf (Poxviridae)virus and the bacillus anthracis (anthrax) which can cause a very strange blood disease called Sorter’s disease , are a great threat to the sheep (Ovus) species. They belong to the order Artiodactyla, which are four legged, ruminants. Their lifespan lasts from 10-12 years. The female sheep called the ewes weigh about 45-100 kg while the male ones called the ram has a weight of 45-160 kg. The sheep fiber is of two types. The coarse beard hair and the soft under hair. Dolly (Finn-Dorset), from Scotland, was the most famous sheep who was cloned with an adult somatic cell. Unfortunately, she died in the Roslin Institute, Edinburgh, Scotland on 14/2/2003 at the age of 6.

Dolly cloning process
ANTHRAX

Wool sources

Wool is mainly obtained from the sheep. But, there are other animals that produce wool like Angora (Turkey) rabbit, Cashmere goat, Angora goat (Mohair), and Vicuna (Llama species). (Cashmere goat, Vicuna, Angora rabbit, Angora goat)

Vicunacrop.jpg

Wool

Wool is the main fiber that is extracted from the fleece of the sheep.  It is found in the beard and near the underside of the sheep’s body. The process includes some steps like-

Shearing

Shearing the wool is the first process of processing wool. It can be done manually or automatic according to the type of trimmer or machine shears to shear sheep. Manual hair clipper have a pair of handles which are alternately squeezed (together) and then released. This type of hair clipper was faster. The electric types of clippers operate the same way as manual ones but has three types of motor, magnetic, pivot, and rotatory.  Rotatory clippers can work on DC (Direct current) or AC (Alternating current). But, magnetic and pivot use magnetic force from the winding copper around steel. AC creates a cycle attracting and relaxing to create the speed and torque for the trimmer to run across the combining blade. There are 5 processes in shearing-

  • remove the wool
  • throw the fleece onto the wool table
  • skirt, roll and class the fleece
  • place it in the appropriate wool bin
  • press and store the wool until it is transported.
Merino shearing, WA

Scouring

Sheep greasy wool can contain high amounts of lanolin (C13-C24), sweat, pesticides, dead skin, etc. In NW-England, Potash pits with soft soap are used to scour the sheep’s wool. In commercial purposes, the wool is carbonized by turning it into carbon by pyrolysis (πυρο-fire, λυσις-separating is a thermochemical decomposition of organic material in the absence of oxygen or any halogen(Group 17 in the periodic table)).

Scoured and Unscoured wool

Carding

After scouring, comes a lining up process called carding. The wool is straightened and lined up to bale them. There are types of carding machines that have teeth in them to straighten the scoured fibres. There are also many big and small machines to card the wool. But, it can also be done manually by hand cards to make wool rolags.

18th century cotton carder (1782)
Wool carding machine

Grading

The next process, grading is sorting the types of wool according to the fineness and texture. The best wool is obtained from the Merino sheep from Alentejo, Portugal and then was introduced to Spain. There is a basis for grading using the grade numbers (microns) which stand for a type of quality of wool. The lower the number, the better the wool.

  • < 15.5: Ultrafine Merino
  • 15.6 – 18.5: Superfine Merino
  • 18.6 – 20: Fine Merino
  • 20.1 – 23: Medium Merino
  • > 23: Strong Merino
  • Comeback: 21–26 microns, white, 90–180 mm long
  • Fine crossbred: 27–31 microns,
  • Medium crossbred: 32–35 microns
  • Downs: 23–34 microns, typically lacks luster and brightness. 
  • Coarse crossbred: >36 microns
  • Carpet wools: 35–45 microns
Merino sheep

 

Weaving

The Wool is weaved into clothes using hand looms or doing it manually. There are two types of fibre patterns in weaving, the weft which are the lateral threads and the warp which are the longitudinal threads. There are many types of weaving like knitting, felting, braiding and plaiting. Weft in Old English means ‘the one that is woven’.

Warp and weft in weaving

Dyeing in the wool making process is an optional process which is done by dipping the woven wool fibers into color dyes to make the cloth look attractive and to make more wool business profit. 

Silkworm (Bombyx mori)

The silkworm is the larva or the newly hatched baby of the silkmoth (Samia cynthia). It’s name Bombyx mori  means the silkworm of the mulberry tree. It ranges from North India, China, the Korean peninsula, Japan and the far eastern regions of Russia. There are two types of Silkworm types, the univoltine (υνι (uni)-one and βολταιν (voltain) meaning brood frequency) is found within Greater Europe. The bivoltine is found in the other parts in Asia. They go through a life cycle which passes the cocoon stage. They wrap themselves around a silk fibre that is extracted from the salivary glands if the larvae. If sericulture is not done and it is allowed to live after spinning the cocoon, it releases proteolytic enzymes (peptidases)(enzymes which do proteolysis by breaking down proteins into smaller polypeptidases or amino acids) and makes a hole in the cocoon to come out as an adult moth. But, Mahatma Gandhi, the father of India, followed the Ahimsa philosophy and refused to use silk by killing silkworms. So, many people like him wear a type of silk called Ahimsa or peace silk. The worm is covered in tiny black hairs and then when they become darker, it indicates that they have to molt.

The cocoon is made up of a thread of silk of length 300-900 m. They are very fine and shiny which are about 10 μm. About 2000-3000 cocoons are needed for making 0.4 kg of silk. But, 28 million kg of cocoons are produced every year and needing billions and billions of cocoons. These silkworms feed on the mulberry leaves (Morus (Μωριάς) alba) which gives them their species name.

Protease
Bombyx mori
Structure of silk

 

The silkworm feeds on the mulberry leaves for 35 days and then spins a cocoon. To extract the silk protein fibers, the sericulture farmers will put them in hot water to loosen the fibers (mass boiling). Then, a long silk fiber from the cocoon is run through an eyelet. Then, the silk fiber run through the eyelet is twisted and then graded. The quality in the silk depends on the manner of twisting. The fiber, thus which is made up of the salivary glands can harden easily.

By the way, sericulture (σηρικός (serikos)-silken) is the rearing of silkworms for obtaining the silk fibers. India (77,000 tonnes) is the 2nd largest producer just behind China (290,003 tonnes). The fiber was found by the Chinese empress Leizu (嫘祖) in about 4000 BC. The ancient Chinese sericulture process is shown below-

In India, Kanchipuram silk (காஞ்சிபுரம் பட்டு)from Tamilnadu state in the South, is the most famous silk in the whole country. It is the largest silk consuming country in the world. The silk industry is most prevalent in the south. In ancient India, Uraiyur (உறையூர்) in Thiruchirapalli district of Tamilnadu was a major silk industrial city. Many other countries, like Korea, Japan, Thailand, etc. are also large producers of silk.

CONSUMABLE PRODUCTS

The main consumable products from are meat. But, we can also get milk from herbivorous animals like goat, cow, etc. English is one of the many languages which have a different name for the meat other than the animal. For example, beef and pork originates from French, bœuf  and porc. The word cow comes from Germanic kuh. Milk contains lactic acid (C₂H₄OHCOOH) which also contains formic acid (HCOOH) and is a carboxylic acid.

Ball-and-stick model of L-lactic acid
Lactic Acid

HOTS Question

1. Why can’t we take the silk fibers directly instead of running an eyelet through it?

2. Why is the wool fiber only sheared in the summer?

3. Find out what will happen to our bodies if we do not scour wool.

4. Why is sericulture farming considered dangerous?

5. Why can’t we take the silk soon after the moth hatches?

Photosynthesis and the types of plants

Hi! Welcome to my first post in science research. This post is going to be about photosynthesis, its types and types of plants and small details about their examples.

PHOTOSYNTHESIS and AUTOTROPHS

You might have heard (of course!) a lot about photosynthesis. Its the boring definition all over again! “It is the process of how plants make their own food using Sunlight, CO2, Water, Minerals, Soil, etc. by the leaves. Leaves are called food factory of the plant”-to which we do not get the answer for WHY and HOW. This same process doesn’t only needs plants but also technology which is a process called ARTIFICIAL PHOTOSYNTHESIS.  The process needs all the things but, let’s take a look at the equation. Sugar is actually starch which is the main energy source of the plant. Starch and Oxygen are the by-products of Photosynthesis. Organisms which do photosynthesis and do carbon fixation are called photoautotrophs which are phototrophs from Greek φωτός (Photos)-Light and τροϕή (troph)-nutrition. By the way, carbon fixation or carbon assimilation is the conversion of inorganic CO2 to organic CO2 that can be utilized by the plants.

2H2O → 4e + 4H+ + O2
CO2 + 4e + 4H+ → CH2O + H2O, e is the electron. H+ is the positive hydrogen ion.

The Carbon fixation process equation (The Calvin cycle)

What are photons? Well, they are elementary particles that are used to absorb light and are not made up of any other particles. It is the quantum of light, and all other forms of electromagnetic radiation. Its symbol is the ‘gamma‘ letter from the Greek alphabet (γ). The energy (E) of the photon is the product of the momentum magnitude (p) and the speed of light (c), and,

E^{2}=p^{2} c^{2} + m^{2} c^{4}.

in terms of wavelength (λ) and velocity (v)-

E=\hbar\omega=h\nu=\frac{hc}{\lambda}

the magnitude of momentum is-

p=\hbar k=\frac{h\nu}{c}=\frac{h}{\lambda}.

ω = 2πν is the angular frequency, h (6.62606957 × 10-34 m2 kg /s) is the Planck constant named and discovered by German physicist Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck (23/4/1858-4/10/1947) and ħ=h/2π which is the reduced Planck constant. The wave scalar k=h/2π.

Wave packet.svg
The wave motion (Photon)

Another important thing that plants need is nitrogen (N2) for its mineral benefits. Mostly symbiotic plants, which cannot fix nitrogen (N2) from the air to any plant usable forms like ammonium (NH4+ ). This is mainly done by fertilizers or manures. Potassium and Phosporous are also needed for good growth.

How are seeds formed? Well, good question. The flower has the seeds and all other stuff like nectar and the plant ovary. The main reproductive part of plants are pollen which contain the nucleus. They are found at the tip of the filament which is part of the male part of the flower called anther. The pollen is pollinated to by other creatures or it is mainly done by self pollination. The pollen lands on top of the tip of the stigma and creates a tube from there to the ovary. The nucleus divides into two male gametes which fertilize in the ovary among with the female gamete and the antipodal cell. The second one fuses with the polar nuclei to form endosperm nucleus which is food store for the seed. The synergid nucleus disappears after fertilization. The micropyle is the entrance of the pollen tube to the ovary through which the male gametes enter. Nucellus is a layer surrounding the embryo sac. The most common pollen is the European field elm (Ulmus minor). It is mainly found in the Swedish islands of Gotland, Öland, and the Turkish Anatolian peninsula.

Ulmus minor

Chlorophyll is a green pigment (C55H72O5N4Mg) which is mainly giving the green color in the leaves. Its name derives from Greek, χλωρός (chloros)-green and φύλλον (phyllon)-leaf. It is actually contained in thyllakoids in stacks called grana in the chloroplast. It has many types-a,b,c1,c2,d, and f. The main structure is shown below.

Chlorophyll a

Structure of a typical higher-plant chloroplast

The other main instrument is stomata. It is closed by two guard cells which swell up if there is presence of light and water to absorb CO2 . Xylem and Phloem are two vessels that carry the water and other soluble items to the leaf (XYLEM) and the output which is starch to the other parts of the plant (PHLOEM)

PARASITIC PLANTS

The first heterotrophic plant come across! They have nutrient sucking roots (haustoria) to suck up the nutrients from the host plant. Their name derives from Greek, (PARASITOS) παράσιτος meaning that ‘the one who eats at the table of another. The word also originates from Medieval French parasite and Latin, parasitus. But, the host plant has many biochemical reactions which invade the parasite back. Mainly, parasitism opens the Jasmonic Acid and NahG pathways which produce chemicals to kill the parasitic roots. These parasites can be partial, which get certain needs for photosynthesis but not some nutrients and complete, which suck up fully from the host. eg- Cuscuta (dodder), most commonly cuscuta europaea belong to the kingdom Plantae, Order, Solanales, Family, Convolvulaceae, and Genus Cuscuta. It is native to Northern Europe.

Cuscuta europaea bgiu.jpg
Cuscuta europaea

SAPROPHYTIC PLANTS

Saprophytic plants are mainly plants that are not plants. They are things that feed on dead and decaying matter. Their name derives from Greek  σάπιο (sapio)-rotten material and φυτό (phyto)-plant or τροφή (trophe)-nutrition. In Saprophytic nutrition, the proteins are broken down into amino acids (a biological group consisting of amine (-NH2) and carboxylic acid (-COOH) with their specific side-chain w.r.t. their amino acid) composites through the breaking of their peptide bonds by proteases. Lipids (Fat) are broken into fatty acids and glycerol by lipases. Starch is broken into simple disaccharides by amylases. But, there are conditions for this nutrition, like,

1. Presence of oxygen

2. 80-90% composition of water

3. pH 7 (Neutral)

4. Temperature-1-35 degrees C

The best example is fungi which is a eukaryote (Domain-Eukaryota) or in short words mushroom (Amanita muscaria).

Amanita muscaria

INSECTIVOROUS PLANTS

Insectivorous plants are the most common in this post because they are so awesome! They have awesome tricks of catching insects. The plants have different mechanisms for catching insects.

Venus Flytrap

Venus Flytrap or Dionea muscipula is an insectivorous plant which belongs to family, Droseraceae. It grows mainly in the southeastern US state of South Carolina. The trap mechanism includes growth, turgor, and elasticity. It only shuts when the trigger hair is simulated twice. In the open stage, the triggers are bent outward and in the close stage, they are forming a cavity. When a hair is triggered, an action potential (an event where the electrical potential membrane falls and rises, following a consistent trajectory.) is activated which propagates across the lobes and stimulates cells in the lobes and the midrib. When acidity rises, the individual cells in the lobes and the midrib moves the hydrogen ions into their cytoplasms, lowering pH, loosening their extracellular components, allowing them to swell rapidly by permeation into semi-permeable organisms (osmosis) and increasing the size of the lobe, trapping the trapped insect.

Action potential in nerve cell
Venus Flytrap

Sundew (Drosera)

The sundew (drosera capanensis) or drosera is the main plant in the droseraceae family of insectivorous plants. Their name derives from Greek δρόσος (drosos)-dewdrops. The plants have sticky, liquidy substances called mucilage at the end of each tentacle. When, the insect lands on it, the legs will get stuck on the tentacle and the whole plant will curl around the insect, secreting digestive juices to eat them.

Drosera capanensis

SYMBIOTIC PLANTS

Symbiotic plants are plants that depend on other organisms but also help them back. It originates from σύν (syn)-together, and βίωσις (biosis)-living. They actually need other organisms for nitrogen fixation like, rhizobia (from Greek, ῥίζα (rhiza)-root, and βίος (bios)-to live) and algae which gives the fungi chlorophyll (This relationship is called lichens). Best examples of symbiotic organisms are leguminous plants like Pea (pisum sativum) which depend upon rhizobia (diazotrophs, belonging to bacterial genus, rhizobium)  for nitrogen fixation. The process goes like this-

N_2 + 8H^+ + 8e^- \to 2NH_3 + H_2

NH_3 + H^+ \to NH_4^+

to convert to plant usable forms like ammonia and ammonium.

Doperwt rijserwt peulen Pisum sativum.jpg
pisum sativum

ARTIFICIAL PHOTOSYNTHESIS

Finally! Artificial Photosynthesis!

This is completely dedicated to Panasonic Japan Co. Ltd. which has developed many ideas for making this and Stenbjörn Styring, chairman of the Swedish Consortium for Artificial Photosynthesis (founded-1994) which was the first Artificial Photosynthesis Lab and Fujishima Akira, the discoverer of photocatalytic properties which led to the idea of Artificial Photosynthesis in the 1960’s.

Akira Fujishima
Stenbjörn Styring

The final product is formic acid (HCOOH) which is a chemical synthesizer. If we have a cathode and anode and we flash light on the Anode (+ve), the chemical reaction happens-

2H2O+2CO2 to O2+2HCOOH

A catalyst is a substance which speeds up chemical reaction while not undergoing change itself. The total catalysis in artificial photosynthesis is shown below-

P (Photosensitizer), D (Water Oxidation Catalyst), A (Hydrogen evolving catalysis)

It is a very efficient way of reducing Carbon dioxide. But, it is very costly and the formic acid is irritant, corrosive and a sensitizer.

Browning of leaves

OK, you might have well as seen brown leaves than green leaves. But why brown? Why not only green? Now, the trees begin breaking down nutrients from leavesto store the minerals to last the winter while the sun is shining. Then, the leaves begin preparing for the next spring. But, the sunlight breaks down cell membranes of the leaf preventing the absorption of nutrients even before it can be stored. Some trees will try to prevent that by making a sugar reaction to create anthocyanin (it actually changes color according to pH, from Greek, ἀνθός (anthos)-flower, κυανός (kyanos)-blue) which is a red pigment. The red pigment on the palisade mesophyll part of the leaf will protect it from the sun’s harmful ray.

ANTHOCYANIN

HOTS Question

1. Would you get saprophytic nutrition in lemon, which has a pH of 12.4? Give reasons for your choice.

2. Why would you refer saprophytic plants as complete heterotrophs although they can take nutrients?

3. Why doesn’t Artificial Photosynthesis need an artificial leaf or plant?

4. Why can’t we use fertilizers for peas?

5. Why does the Venus flytrap have opposite direction lobes when closed/open?

Please give your answers in the comments below. HOPE YOU ENJOY!