Nigerian university train Ghanaian scientists on DNA barcoding

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Enugu

The DNA Learning Centre, Nigeria, in collaboration with the Godfrey Okoye University (GOUNI), Enugu, have trained Ghanaian scientists on DNA barcoding to enhance biodiversity research and conservation efforts in Ghana.

The Vice Chancellor (VC) of GOUNI, Prof. Christian Anieke, disclosed this in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday, in Enugu.

Anieke said a three-day workshop, with the topic “DNA Barcoding of Local Biodiversity”, held in Ghana, brought together Ghanaian scientists eager to expand their knowledge in the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) field.

According to him, DNA barcoding is a revolutionary technique that uses a short DNA sequence from a standardized region of an organism’s genome to identify species.

“It has proven invaluable in cataloging and understanding the diversity of life on earth, aiding in conservation efforts, and advancing scientific knowledge.

“The workshop featured Prof. George Ude, Prof. Tom Broker, Dr Kwasi Agbleke, Michael Okoro, who are experts in the field of DNA barcoding and biodiversity research,” he said.

The VC explained that the workshop was aimed at building local capacity among Ghanaian scientists, equipping them with the necessary skills and knowledge to conduct DNA barcoding of local biodiversity.

He said that participation of the experts in the field of DNA barcoding and biodiversity research had underscored the commitment of the DNA Learning Centre, Nigeria, and GOUNI, in fostering scientific cooperation across African nations.

He further explained that the workshop offered participants an opportunity to engage in hands-on training, gaining practical experience in DNA extraction, PCR amplification, DNA quality and quantity measurement using the Nanodrop and Gel electrophoresis.

Others are sample sequencing and bioinformatics data analysis using the DNA Subway platform.

PCR is a very sensitive technique that allows rapid amplification of a specific segment of DNA.

According to him, these skills are essential for researchers seeking to contribute to Ghana’s conservation efforts, monitor ecosystem health, and address issues related to biodiversity loss and species identification.

The VC pledged to organise similar workshops in the future, ensuring that more African nations can benefit from the expertise and resources available.

“As African countries increasingly recognize the importance of biodiversity conservation, workshops like this serve as a crucial step toward empowering local scientists to take the lead in preserving their natural environments.

With the skills acquired at this training, Ghanaian scientists are better equipped than ever to contribute to the protection and understanding of their nation’s unique biodiversity,” he said.

Anieke said the lead Trainer, Prof. George Ude, while emphasizing the importance of the training for Ghanaian scientists, stated that, “Biodiversity conservation is a global concern, and accurate species identification through DNA barcoding vital for preserving our natural heritage”.

“By training scientists in Ghana, we are empowering them to take a more active role in these efforts and contribute to the global scientific community,” he said.

He stated that another expert at the centre, Michael Okoro, said their goal was not just to provide knowledge but to foster collaboration and strengthen the network of researchers working on biodiversity issues in West Africa.

“Together, we can achieve more for the environment and future generations,” Okoro said.

The VC quoted participants who came from various universities and research institutions across Ghana, to have expressed gratitude over the training.

He explained that Dr Kwasi Agbleke, the Director of the host institution – SENA Institute of Technology, Ghana, – said the workshop had become an eye-opener.

“We now have the tools and knowledge to make significant contributions to biodiversity conservation and research in our country.

“It’s a game-changer for us,” he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the DNA Learning Centre, Nigeria, is a model molecular biology instruction centre that will cater for the need for a curriculum-based hands-on laboratory experience in the country and Africa at large.

It is the only centre in Africa and is sited at the permanent campus of Godfrey Okoye University in Enugu state, Nigeria.

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