This project is important as it will provide public reference resources of c. 900 DNA sequence barcodes of useful plants (timber and medicinal trees) and associated data from West Africa. These data will be available in international genomic and DNA barcoding databases, including BOLD and EBI/GenBank. This would make the resource widely available to as many people as possible. The resources generated would allow the authentication of herbal medicines, ensuring that substitutes are not used and that safer medicines are delivered to local and international markets; and contributing to sustainable harvesting of medicinal trees and thereby enhancing conservation of biodiversity. Also would allow the tracing of illegal logging and trade in illegal timber; thereby reducing deforestation, and allowing for sustainable forestry.
Key Objectives and Activities
The goals include the establishment of a plant DNA Bank in Ghana and availability of a public reference library of DNA barcode sequences of tree species, and associated data on a bioinformatics platform, for example, Barcode of Life Data (BOLD) Systems. The project will improve skills and build capacity by organizing training workshops for mentees who will come from Ghana (10) and the West African Sub-region (20), to be mentored by specialists from Africa and the United Kingdom/USA. The mentors coming from Africa and the United Kingdom/USA provides for South-South and North-South co-operation in bridging the knowledge gap in biodiversity conservation and bringing novel technologies that can significantly confront some of the present day challenges in biodiversity conservation to developing countries.
build a public reference library of DNA barcode sequences of tree species
improve skills and build capacity by organizing training workshops
Six mentors in two workshops will train 30 mentees (Herbarium technicians /botanists /post-graduate students) in Herbarium techniques and biodiversity conservation, DNA barcoding methods and its applications, and grant writing skills. The training will enable a better understanding of Biodiversity and the wider use of DNA barcoding in the socio-economic development of West Africa.DNA barcoding useful trees (timber and medicinal) will provide greater opportunities for the wider application of DNA barcoding in conservation of biodiversity in West Africa.
Notes from JRS
Trees and medicinal plants are critical components of Ghana’s ecosystems and their ecosystem services and economic value. Valuable trees and plants contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of resources as well as the exploitation and degradation of forests. This project is one of several JRS projects that use DNA Barcoding as part of the toolkit of species identification and occurrence data. In collaboration with international partners, the project team will barcode 150 of Ghana’s most important tree species for research and conservation purposes as well as to develop molecular diagnostics to correctly identify constituents of traditional medicines as well as illegal extractions in the logging trade. Two workshops also comprise a critical capacity-building component of this project and will complement other JRS investment in West Africa in training and in national biodiversity informatics platforms.