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Tropical grass Darbha identified as an eco-friendly food preservative by SASTRA University

Mar 18, 2015 16:10 IST

The researchers at SASTRA University, Thanjavur on 16 March 2015 identified traditional tropical grass Darbha as an eco-friendly food preservative.

The finding evolved from the study conducted on the grass Darbha which was jointly undertaken by the Centre for Nanotechnology and Advanced Biomaterials (CeNTAB) and the Centre for Advanced Research in Indian System of Medicine (CARISM) of the SASTRA University under the supervision of Dr. P Meera and Dr. P Brindha respectively.

Main findings of the Study

In order to find the fermenting property of Darbha grass, the researchers placed five tropical grass species including Darbha grass, lemon grass, Bermuda grass and bamboo grass in the Cow’s curd as it could ferment easily.

On this, they found that

• Electron microscopy of Darbha grass represented stunning nano-patterns and hierarchical nano or micro structures while they were absent in other grasses.

• Darbha grass alone was found to attract enormous number of bacteria into the hierarchical surface features. These bacteria are responsible for fermentation of curd.

• Darbha could be used as a natural food preservative in place of harmful chemical preservatives.

• Further, the artificial surfaces mimicking the hierarchical nano patterns on the surface of darbha grass could find applications in health care where sterile conditions were required.

Use of Darbha grass during Vedic period

Darbha grass (Desmotachya bipinnata) is considered a sacred material in Vedic scriptures and is said to purify the offerings during such rituals.

During eclipse, people use to place the Darbha grass in food items that could ferment and were removed with the end of eclipse.

Darbha grass was used as a disinfectant during Vedic period because it was the sole grass that acted as disinfectant during eclipses.

During eclipses the blue and ultraviolet radiations, which are known for their natural disinfecting property, are not available in sufficient quantities.

As a result uncontrolled growth of micro-organisms in food products takes place during eclipses.

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