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Truth of Colored Rains in Sri Lanka

Recently there were some colored rain falls in Sri Lanka. Most of scientists and people have given lots of opinions. Some of them built some fictitious stories with the contents of these rains which have some connection of outer universe.

However scientists have examined the water samples of odd colored rains and have discovered the truth of colored rains in Sri Lanka. We asked about the current status of his investigations from one of scientists. He is Dr.D.L Jayaratne (Senior Lecturer of Microbiology, University of Kelaniya in Sri Lanka). His report of results of investigations as follows.

Red rains in Sri Lanka

The red rain water samples collected from Gall District, the Southern part of Sri Lanka were examined microscopically.  The microscopic examinations showed that the water samples consist with red spherical spore like structures present in a mass of light red pigmented materials.  Further studies revealed that the spherical structures are spores of a terrestrial algae belonging to the genus Trentepohlia and the pigmented materials are carotenoids found in this photosynthetic algae.

Truth of Coloured Rains in Sri LankaFigure 1. Microscopic photographs of Trentepohlia spores and cloudy mass of carotenoid pigment (400x)

The high power light microscopic examinations revealed that the spores are spherical or oval shaped, thick walled, and surrounded by outer cell envelope.  Moreover, the dark shaded region surrounded by bright colour ring appearing in the microphotograph suggests that the presence of the inward depression of the spherical surface to form cup like structure (Fugure 2).

Colored rains in Sri LankaFigure 2. Microphotograph of a single spherical spore of Trentepohlia (1000x)

These preliminary observations suggest that the red rain water is heavily contaminated with Trentepohlia spores.  The red colour is due to the presence of these spores and the carotenoid pigments in red rain water.  Trentepohlia is a green algae living free or symbiotically in association with fungi making lichens in terrestrial environments.  An extensive growth of these lichens recorded in dry zone stone surfaces including archeological monuments.  The previous investigations on lichen growth, their propagation and dissemination revealed that the spores of algae and fungal components or the ‘soredia’ composed of fungal hyphae surrounding the algal counterpart are disseminated by wind and rain splash.

Update: 04-18-2013

Videos of Red rains

Trentepohlia on Sigiriya rocks 01


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Trentepohlia on Sigiriya rocks 02


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Lichens on Sigiriya rocks 01


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Lichens on Sigiriya rocks 02


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Trentepohlia on Concrete source


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Trentepohlia on trees


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Further Reading

Trentepohlia Scientific Classification

Dr. D. L. JayaratneDr. D. L. Jayaratne

Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Viridiplantae
Phylum: Chlorophyta
Class: Ulvophyceae
Order: Trentepohliales
Family: Trentepohliaceae
Genus: Trentepohlia


Special thanks for Dr.D.L.Jayaratne, Senior Lecturer of Microbiology, University of Kelaniya in Sri Lanka.


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Summary of "Truth of Colored Rains in Sri Lanka"

Scientists have examined the water samples of odd colored rains and have discovered the truth of colored rains in Sri Lanka. This is a report of results of investigations.

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