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Researchers in UK develop viruses to save muga silkworm
13
Jan '16
Researchers at the University of Leicester in Britain have claimed to develop viruses that could protect the Muga silkworm from succumbing to bacterial infections and stop the rapid decline in the population of the 'Muga' caterpillar which produces one of the finest silks in the world.

Over the recent years, there has been a reported decline in the Muga moth population due bacterial infections attributed to eating of infected leaves, an agency report said.

It quoted Dr Mahananda Chutia, a visiting academic from Assam at the University, saying that "As well as its silk trade, Assam is known for its tea and farmers often spray pesticides to protect the tea leaves - these sprays are thought to have reached the silkworms and have weakened them.

"In our model system at Leicester, we have found that the consumption of phages (viruses) by caterpillars is a very effective method of preventing bacterial diseases," said Dr Chutia who is an Indian Government employee.

Dr Chutia has tested his research on common white wax worms, as Muga caterpillars cannot survive in the UK. He is scheduled to return to Assam by the end of January and begin to test the viruses by spraying them on to the leaves the caterpillars eat.

The University claimed that if the research proved successful on Muga caterpillars, it would provide relief to thousands of farmers in Assam, who rear muga caterpillars for their unique golden silk thread. (SH)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk - India

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