Q Why is it in News?
The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad has relied on a forensic test known as diatom tests for leads in an alleged murder case of a person inviting high stage political drama.
Q What are Diatoms?
- Diatoms are photosynthesizing algae that are found in almost every aquatic environment including fresh and marine waters, soils, in fact, almost anywhere moist.
- Diatoms have cell walls made of silica, each species has a distinct pattern of tiny holes in the cell wall (frustule) through which they absorb nutrients and get rid of waste.
- A diatom is a photosynthetic, single-celled organism which means they manufacture their own food in the same way plants do.
Q What is importance of Diatoms?
- provide the basis of the food chain for both marine and freshwater micro-organisms and animal larvae
- are a major source of atmospheric oxygen responsible for 20-30% of all carbon fixation on the planet
- can act as environmental indicators of climate change
- form the basis of some household goods such as pest/mite prevention and mild abrasive
Q What is a diatom test?
- Diagnosis of death by drowning is deemed as a difficult task in forensic pathology.
- A number of tests have been developed to confirm the cause of such deaths with the diatom test emerging as one of the most important tests.
- The test entails findings if there are diatoms in the body being tested.
Q What is the science behind?
- A body recovered from a water body does not necessarily imply that the death was due to drowning.
- If the person is alive when he enters the water, the diatoms will enter the lungs when the person inhales water while drowning.
- These diatoms then get carried to various parts of the body, including the brain, kidneys, lungs and bone marrow by blood circulation.
- If a person is dead when is thrown in the water, then there is no circulation and there is no transport of diatom cells to various organs.