Synthetic Biology

IAS Current affairs - China’s Maritime Quest

Synthetic Biology



  • Recently, the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science & Technology released a draft foresight paper on synthetic biology.
  • Synthetic biology has multifarious applications of energy, agriculture and  Thus, there is always a perceived threat of components releasing into the open environment.
  • Therefore, the document stresses on the need for a national policy that can consolidate India’s stand on the issue.

About Synthetic Biology

  • The term ‘synthetic biology’ was first used by Barbara Hobomin in 1980, to describe bacteria that had been genetically engineered using recombinant DNA technology.
  • Synthetic biology refers to the science of using genetic sequencing, editing, and modification to create unnatural organisms or organic molecules that can function in living systems.
  • Synthetic biology enables scientists to design and synthesise new sequences of DNA from scratch.
  • The term was used to describe the synthesis of unnatural organic molecules that function in living systems.
    • More broadly in this sense, the term has been used with reference to efforts to ‘redesign life’.

Recently, the Delhi government has notified forest land in two villages in South Delhi as ‘reserved forest’, which will give them legal status.

  • It was notified under Section 20 (declaration of reserved forest) of Indian Forest Act, 1927.

What are the Different Types of Forests?

  • Reserved Forests: Reserve forests are themost restricted forests and are constituted by the State Government on any forest land or wasteland which is the property of the Government.
    • In reserved forests, local people are prohibited, unless specifically allowed by a Forest Officer in the course of the settlement.
  • Protected Forests: TheState Government is empowered to constitute any land other than reserved forests as protected forests over which the Government has proprietary rights and the power to issue rules regarding the use of such forests.
    • Thispower has been used to establish State control over trees, whose timber, fruit or other non-wood products have revenue-raising potential.
  • Village forest:Village forests are the one in which the State Government may assign to ‘any village community the rights of Government to or over any land which has been constituted a reserved forest’.
How are Forests Categorised Based on Rainfall in India?
  • Tropical Evergreen and Semi Evergreen Forests:
    • These forests are found in the western slope of the Western Ghats, hills of the northeastern region and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
    • They arefound in warm and humid areas with an annual precipitation of over 200 cm and mean annual temperature above 22o
    • Tropical evergreen forests are well stratified, with layers closer to the ground and are covered with shrubs and creepers,with short structured trees followed by a tall variety of trees.
    • In these forests, trees reach great heightsup to 60 m or above. There is no definite time for trees to shed their leaves, flowering and fruition. As such these forests appear green all the year round.
    • The semi evergreen forests are found in the less rainy parts of these regions. Such forests have a mixture of evergreen and moist deciduous trees. The undergrowing climbers provide an evergreen character to these forests.


  • Tropical Deciduous Forests:
    • These are the most widespread forests in India. They are also called the monsoon forests. They spread over regions which receive rainfall between 70-200 cm. On the basis of the availability of water, these forests are further divided into moist and dry deciduous.


  • Montane Forests:
    • In mountainous areas, the decrease in temperature with increasing altitude leads to a corresponding change in natural vegetation.
    • Mountain forests can be classified into two types, the northern mountain forests and the southern mountain forests.


  • Tropical Thorn forests:
    • Tropical thorn forests occur in the areas which receive rainfall less than 50 cm. These consist of a variety of grasses and shrubs. It includes semi-arid areas of south west Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
    • In these forests, plants remain leafless for most part of the year and give an expression of scrub vegetation.


  • Swamp Forests:
    • They are found along the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the delta area of the Ganga and the
      • Other areas of significance are the Mahanadi, the Godavari and the Krishna deltas.
    • Some of these forests are dense and impenetrable. Only a limited number of plants are found in these evergreen forests.
    • They have roots that consist of soft tissue so that the plant can breathe in the water.
    • It consists mainly of whistling pines, mangrove dates, palms, and bulletwood.

Source: THE HINDU.