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IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC)

Advancing knowledge and cooperation for a healthy ocean and prosperous society

WESTPAC kicks off its new project on DNA Taxonomy

The workshop on “DNA Taxonomy in the Identification of Marine Organisms in Coral Reef Ecosystems” took place in Bangkok, Thailand from 5 to 6 August 2013 with the host of the Department of Marine Science, Chulalongkorn University.

Taxonomy identifies and enumerates the components of biological diversity providing basic knowledge underpinning management. The inception workshop aimed to examine the current status of national and regional capacity for identification of species living in the coral reef ecosystems and to establish an implementation plan of the project in consideration of its objectives. The workshop saw 21 participants from 8 countries: China, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The workshop consisted of 2 days with various presentations with respect to the following main objectives:

i. Current status of national and regional capacity for coral reef species identification and genetic analysis in the WESTPAC region;

ii. Establishment of a genetic marker called DNA barcode for each species as a standard measure for objective identification;

iii. Establishment of inventories of marine organisms living in the coral reefs in WESTPAC countries and the information sharing among member countries for the assessment of biodiversity;

iv. Recruitment monitoring of the reef organisms by analyzing the larvae and fries.

During the two days information on the current status of national capacity for coral reef species identification and genetic analysis, as well as the publicly available national databases and inventories, was exchanged among workshop participants. Participants also discussed extensively on which genetic markers (C01, 16sRNA, etc.) are to be used as standard measures for species identification. The creation of the WESTPAC Portal System was also proposed, which would be an information sharing mechanism connecting national databases on marine organisms. the participants also agreed on a list of ‘target species groups’, which are identified as being of fundamental importance to the ecosystem and biodiversity. Participants also indicated interest in working on several of these species groups so that WESTPAC can better plan the recruitment monitoring of coral reef organisms.

For more information, you can contact Dr. Youn-Ho Lee, IOC/WESTPAC Project Leader on DNA Taxonomy in the Identification of Marine Organisms in Coral Reef Ecosystems, at