Dr Gwynneth Matcher

AGRP Instrument Scientist
Dr Gwynneth Matcher
Tel : +27 46 603 5818

Research Interests

Molecular ecology, genomics, and eDNA

My research interests are molecular ecology, genomics, and eDNA. As an instrument scientist, I also provide support and access to infrastructure for researchers wanting to undertake genomics research.

Current research projects:

Molecular Microbial Ecology: The microbial communities present in any given environment are typically diverse and form an essential component of ecosystem functioning. My research specifically focuses on characterization of the microbial populations in aquatic ecosystems, marine sponges and Antarctic soils. 

eDNA analysis of fish assemblages: Environmental DNA (eDNA) is a new and rapidly evolving field which provides an alternative and non-invasive method for detecting and monitoring fish species in water bodies. The aim of my research project is to use eDNA, in conjunction with traditional underwater video assessments, to profile fish assemblages in deep/shallow reefs within and outside of marine protected areas (MPAs) which in turn will inform on the effectiveness of MPAs under investigation. A significant advantage of eDNA research over that of traditional methodologies is that cryptic and elusive fish species can be detected. This aspect will be harnessed in the Deep Connections project where eDNA will be utilized to determine the distribution range of the iconic coelacanth as well as critically endangered seabream species. 

Molecular barcoding: Marine ecosystems are incredibly diverse yet the vast majority of marine species remain undescribed. In order for techniques such as eDNA research to be feasible, a reference database of fish species is required. This is sadly lacking for South African fish species and is one of the molecular barcoding targets of my research. In addition to fish species barcoding, I am also involved in the SeaMap project which aims to utilize integrative genetic, taxonomic and ecosystem research in order to identify South Africa’s marine invertebrate biodiversity. This type of foundational biodiversity information is critical in order to support science-based management and safeguarding of endemic species and healthy marine ecosystems. 

Current students

Mpilo Nyawo (PhD)
Jody Oliver (PhD)
Suzanne Redelinghuys (PhD)
Ross-Lynne Gibbs (PDP Post Doctoral Fellow)


Rhodes University

Recent Peer-Reviewed Publications