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Bioinformatics as a Tool for the Conservation of Biological Resources

As part of the Crossby Lab, we organized and executed a field ornithology workshop between 08 -10 March 2021 at the Elizade University, Ilara-Mokin, Ondo State, Nigeria. This was in conjunction with the A.P Leventis Ornithological Research Institute (APLORI), University of Jos, Nigeria and the Natural History Museum, University of Oslo, Norway.


Workshop, genetics, proteomics, molecular ecology, training




Background

Over the years, more encompassing approaches including molecular methods have gain use in biodiversity conservation. For example, molecular technologies are now very useful and are deployed to identify segments of genome that are responsible for adaptation in species. This has improved our understanding of selection, mutation, assertive matting, and recombination processes, and genes that are crucial for fitness in many taxa. Despite this knowledge has fostered better conservation of endangered species and biodiversity, it remained poorly understood and used in most developing regions of the world. The workshop is intended to bridge such gaps and stimulate proactive scientific engagements and build capacity for research skills for understanding the use of bioinformatics tools and genomics data for biodiversity conservation. The training workshop was aimed to provide participants with basic knowledge in area of molecular ecology and bioinformatics. The specific objectives of the workshop were to train participants in bioinformatics tools for conservation of biological diversity; expose participants to databases for retrieving and analyzing genetic data, and computer packages and software, deployed for this purpose. It is hoped the workshop.

Early morning bird watch activities during the workshop


Workshop Sessions & Talks


Biodiversity and Conservation (1st talk-virtual)

This section gave an overview of biodiversity and conservation from a global and local perspective, with emphasis on threats and conservation problems. This presentation was titled, Conservation and Biodiversity’ and was made by Dr Taiye A. Adeyanju, of the University of Ibadan, Nigeria.




Role of genomics analytical tools in species conservation (2nd talk-virtual)

This part was focused on the use of bioinformatics in Genetics/Genomics/Phylogenetics. Participants were introduced into genomics and tools used for genetic data analysis, and how genomic data helped improved understanding of biodiversity conservation. The resource person showed through presentation the relevance of his work in species conservation. The presentation titled, ‘Use of bioinformatics in phylogenetics: "Understanding Evolutionary Biogeography in a Changing World", was made by Dr. Daru H. Barnabas of the Department of Life Sciences, Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi, USA.


Conservation Genetics in Nigeria I (3rd talk-virtual)

Participants were exposed to conservation genetics approach in Nigeria but with particular reference to the population genetics of birds. The resource person (Dr. Jacinta Abalaka, Molecular Ecology Lab, APLORI) has worked extensively in this area. She gave a presentation on, Conservation Genetics in Nigeria: the Rock Firefinch Lagonosticta sanguinodorsalis Project’ and shared how the research was relevant for the conservation of species in Nigeria and Africa.


Conservation Genetics in Nigeria II (4th talk-virtual)

Here participants were also introduced to conservation genetic in Nigeria. The resource person (Dr. Talatu Tende, NiBAP, Nigeria) has worked extensively in this area; she made a presentation on, Conservation Genetics in Nigeria: the Lion Panthera leo Project’ and shared how her research was relevant for the conservation of mammalian carnivores in Nigeria and Africa.


Bioinformatics as too in life sciences (5th talk-physical)

This section focused on in-silico approach for retrieval and analysis of genomic data for various purposes. Participants were introduced into proteomics, and how to used computer-based software and programmes to design/develop molecules which might be relevance for biodiversity conservation. The resource person (Dr. O.S Onile, Elizade University) put his work into limelight in the area of vaccine construction, giving a presentation on, ‘Designing a conserved peptide‑based subunit vaccine against sars‑cov‑2 using immunoinformatics approach’.




DNA Barcoding and Forensics:

The following section was to introduce participants to DNA Barcoding. It was meant to show its use in taxonomy, forensic sciences, trophic interaction and diet analysis. The presenter (Dr. T.C. Omotoriogun) give a talk on DNA Barcoding of West African/Nigeria birds currently underway, and what the project aims to achieve.



Databases, Illustration and group work

This session was meant to introduce participants to genetic databases and analysis; and instigate critical thinking and application of bioinformatics knowledge for solving ecological problems. Simple practical exercises in the areas above was intended to give participants hand-on training. The participants were shared into group with responsibility to apply the knowledge gained from the workshop to address a problem.

Organizers & facilitators

The training workshop was mainly organized by Department of Biological Sciences, Elizade University, Ilara-Mokin Nigeria, in collaboration with the A.P. Leventis Ornithological Research Institute (APLORI), Jos Nigeria, and the Department of Research and Collection, Natural History Museum, University of Oslo Norway. Dr. T.C. Omotoriogun Chaired the Local Organizing Committee.



Acknowledgments


Many thanks to the Elizade University Management for approval to hold the workshop. We appreciate the Natural History Museum, University of Oslo for financial support, and the A.P Leventis Ornithological Research Institute, University of Jos for logistic support. Many thanks to all staff of the Department of Biological Sciences, Elizade University for their effort during the workshop. Thanks to all invited guest speakers, executive trainers, and to all patrons for advise and supports; and also to all the participants.

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