Marine Genomics



Research Leader: Dr Romina Henriques

The Marine Genomics group at University of Pretoria was first established in 2021, under the supervision of Dr Romina Henriques. The group work focusses on using genomic tools to understand the evolutionary history of marine species around southern Africa, with a strong emphasis on providing information for conservation and management plans.

In particular, we are interested in understanding how historical oceanographic features influenced the evolution of marine fishes, and how on-going climate change will impact these. The southern African marine environment is considered a climate change hotspot, as conditions are changing faster than predicted. These will have severe biological, ecological, evolutionary and socio-economic consequences for marine species and fishery industries alike. Understanding how commercially exploited marine species, in particular transboundary species, will react to on-going climate change is thus fundamental not only to ensure the long-term maintenance of marine biodiversity, but also that fishing can proceed sustainably.

We currently work across multiple species in southern Africa, including Cape hakes (Merluccius paradoxus and M. capensis), anchovy (Engraulis capensis), red roman (Chrysoblephus laticeps), St Joseph shark (Callorhinchus capensis) and pyjama sharks (Poroderma africanum). Our work uses low coverage Whole Genome Sequencing, as well as reduced-representation sequencing, to assess population genomics, detect local adaptation, and forecast changes in distribution ranges using genomic data.

We are funded by the National Research Foundation (South Africa), the BiodivERsA network via Department of Science and Innovation (South Africa), and the Revive & Restore and Morris Animal Foundation.

Team 2023

Dr Sara Andreotti, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Prof Warren Potts, Rhodes University, South Africa 
Dr Amber-Robyn Childs, Rhodes University, South Africa

PhD Students
George Brett
Courtney Gardiner
Mannda Ndou

PhD Position available

MSc Students
Sandy Nghipangelwa
Willem Olivier


  • Prof Sophie von der Heyden, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
  • Prof Conrad A Matthee, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
  • Prof van der Merwe-Bester, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
  • Dr Sara Andreotti, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
  • Prof Warren Potts, Rhodes University, South Africa
  • Dr Amber-Robyn Childs, Rhodes University, South Africa
  • Prof Peter Teske, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Prof Einar Eg Nielsen, Technical University of Denmark, National Institute of Aquatic Resources, Denmark
  • Prof Rita Castilho, CCMAR, Portugal
  • Dr Regina Cunha, CCMAR, Portugal
  • Prof Joana Robalo, ISPA-IU, Portugal
  • Prof Marie-Catherine Riekhof, University of Kiel, Germany
  • Dr Hilkka ON Ndjaula, University of Namibia
  • Dr Margit Wilhelm, University of Namibia
  • Dr Deon Durholtz, DFFE, South Africa
  • Dr Carl van der Lingen, DFFE, South Africa
  • Dr Larvika Singh, DFFE, South Africa
  • Dr Johannes Kathena, NatMirc, Namibia
  • Dr Paulus Kainge, NatMirc, Namibia

Recent Publications

  1. Forde S, von der Heyden S, Le Moan A, Nielsen ES, Durholtz D, Kainge P, Kathena J, Lipinski M, Ndjaula HON, Matthee CA, Henriques R (2023) Management and conservation implications for cryptic population sub-structure in commercially exploited fishes. Molecular Ecology Resources,
  2. Nielsen ES, Hanson JO, Carvalho SB, Beger M, Henriques R, Kershaw F, von der Heyden S (2022). Molecular ecology meets systematic conservation planning. Trends in Ecology & Evolution.
  3. Manuzzi A, Jiménez-Mena B, Henriques R, Holmes BJ, Pepperell J, Edson J, Bennett MB, Huveneers C, Ovenden JR, Nielsen EE (2022) Retrospective genomics suggests the disappearance of a tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) population off south-eastern Australia. Scientific Reports, 12: 6582.
  4. Schulze MJ, von der Heyden S, Japp D, Singh L, Durholtz D, Kapula VK, Ndjaula HON, Henriques R (2020). Supporting fisheries management with genomic tools: a case study of Kingklip (Genypterus capensis) off southern Africa. Frontiers in Marine Science, 7: 787.
  5. Henriques R, von der Heyden S, Lipinski M, Heunis N, Kainge P, Bloomer P, Matthee CA (2016). Spatio-temporal genetic structure and the effects of long-term fishing in two partially sympatric offshore demersal fishes. Molecular Ecology, 25: 5843-61.


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