Africa is immensely rich in biodiversity. Its extremely varied biomes support diverse animal, plant and marine life. Its living organisms comprise around a quarter of the world’s Biodiversity, it has the greatest number of large mammals on earth, many of which roam freely. Africa’s biodiversity is extremely valuable global resource which is now under serious threat from both climate change and urbanisation. There are many initiates to reduce and revert the loss of biodiversity. We are at a critical point in time, where genomics can help to record the biodiversity levels and advance scientific research and conservation efforts.
Genomics Africa is a non-for-profit initiative that is working with key laboratories in Africa to provide affordable sequencing services to record Africa’s animal and plant biodiversity. Together with our national and international partners, we have invested in fully automated laboratories and ISO-accredited processes that can produce sequence data at the same quality, price and speed as the top international genomics facilities in the world. Furthermore, we have also invested in large bioinformatics systems that can help to analyze the data on the continent. We believe that recording and analysing the genomic diversity of animals and plants in Africa can help conservation efforts. We also believe that this will open an avenue to use indigenous knowledge to generate products that can improve local economies.
The following sequencing technologies are available to sequence whole genomes, sub-genomic regions, transcriptomes (i.e. RNA-seq), amplicons and microsatellites from animals and plants in Africa:
Long-read technology: PACBIO and Oxford Nanopore Technology
Short-read technology: BGISEQ, Illumina (Hiseq, NextSeq, Miseq), TFS S5 (S5Ion, S5Prime)
Sanger technology: ABI3730xl (96 capillaries, see Sanger promotion at KRISP), ABI3500xl, ABI3500
We can only provide cutting-edge and affordable services by collaborating with key companies and funders. However, this is the only the beginning and we are looking for new partners, funders and philantropists to advance this project. For example, we would like to record the genetic diversity of the rhino as it is, again, on the brink of extinction. We would also like to characterise the micro-organism diversity in our oceans to develop sustainable ways to use our marine resources. The Genomics Africa initiate also works closely with its partners to improve genomics data governance and data access. Another objective is to provide quick and accurate sequencing capacity to prevent wildlife crime and wildlife trafficking in Africa.
Researchers and conservation initiatives can already use our affordable DNA sequencing services at Genomics Africa and can contact us for help to design/fund research and conservation projects. We would also like to encourage funders and philanthropist to adopt a genomics conservation projects in Africa.
Below are some photographs by Samora Chapman, which highlight Africa’s animal and plant diversity,
- SAMRC RFA: Pharmacogenomics in Precision Medicine with Genomics Africa & DIPLOMICS labs, Deadline: 5 Nov 2019
- SAMRC funds KRISP & Oxford to Sequence Children Genomes that are Protected from HIV in Africa
- Lifeblood: She came to the city full of hope, but this will always be dark city. Downtown Durban & The hunted: a pair of impala at dawn. Hluhluwe, KZN
- Lifeblood: A man and a monkey… both have cool beards (politics aside). Doung – contemplating roots, walls and pathways. Downtown Durban
- Lifeblood: Joe the busker wears white face paint for the sidewalk stage. Durban CBD & Zebra skin, the perfect camouflage. Hluhluwe, KZN