Features » SeaKeys: Unlocking foundational marine biodiversity knowledge


Yonela Sithole taking morphological measurements of S cabrilla at the SAM in Cape Town 112africanseabass Monica Mwale collecting DNA samples Gonubie 

South Africa is known to have a shortfall of marine and coastal biodiversity databases for most taxa (Branch et al., 2002). The SeaKeys project aims to unlock marine biodiversity knowledge through the coordinated capture and distribution of genetic and species data as well as ecosystem information on South African marine environment and benefit the country as a whole through the exploration and understanding of genetic diversity within the South African marine environment.

The project, which is funded through the DST/NRF/SANBI Foundational Biodiversity Knowledge and Information research funding programme, aims to empower stakeholders across the marine biodiversity knowledge chain. Key aspects of the SeaKeys project include collection of data, collaboration among different research institutions and improved co-ordination and sharing of information in the marine community. \

A major aspect of the project is to unlock fundamental biodiversity information through DNA barcoding. The project will use common, invasive, commercially important, rare as well as threatened/endangered marine species.

The DNA barcodes will be used to link the form and structure of various marine species to aid estimating species diversity and distributions. The barcodes will be made accessible through the Barcode of Life Database

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Gonubie rock pools Noxolo Ntuli processing SeaKeys DNA samples in SAIAB's collection facillity Anemone Actinia species