Dr Gwynneth Matcher

Dr Gwynneth Matcher
Dr Gwynneth Matcher

Research Interests:

Molecular ecology, genomics, and eDNA

Position: Instrument Scientist, South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity; Research Associate, Rhodes University

Dr Gwynneth Matcher joined NRF-SAIAB as an instrument scientist in 2022.  Her research interests include molecular ecology, genomics, and eDNA. As an instrument scientist, she also provides support and access to infrastructure for researchers wanting to undertake genomics research.

Current research projects:

Molecular Microbial Ecology: The microbial communities present in any given environment are typically diverse and form an essential component of ecosystem functioning. Dr Matcher’s research specifically focuses on characterisation of the microbial populations in aquatic ecosystems, marine sponges and Antarctic soils.

eDNA analysis of fish assemblages: environmental DNA (eDNA) is a new and rapidly evolving field which provides an alternative and non-invasive method for detecting and monitoring fish species in water bodies. The aim of Dr Matcher’s research project is to use eDNA, in conjunction with traditional underwater video assessments, to profile fish assemblages in deep/shallow reefs within and outside marine protected areas (MPAs) which, in turn, will inform on the effectiveness of MPAs under investigation. A significant advantage of eDNA research over that of traditional methodologies is that cryptic and elusive fish species can be detected. This aspect will be harnessed in the Deep Connections project where eDNA will be utilised to determine the distribution range of the iconic coelacanth as well as critically endangered seabream species.

Molecular barcoding: Marine ecosystems are incredibly diverse, yet the vast majority of marine species remain undescribed. In order for techniques such as eDNA research to be feasible, a reference database of fish species is required. This is sadly lacking for South African fish species and molecular barcoding is one of the targets of Dr Matcher’s research. In addition to fish species barcoding, Dr Matcher is involved in the SeaMap project which aims to use integrative genetic, taxonomic and ecosystem research in order to identify South Africa’s marine invertebrate biodiversity. This type of foundational biodiversity information is critical in order to support science-based management, and safeguard endemic species in healthy marine ecosystems.



Institution and location


BSc. Biochemistry, Microbiology,

Rhodes University, Makhanda


BSc. (Hons) Microbiology (with distinction)

Rhodes University, Makhanda


PhD. Microbiology

Rhodes University, Makhanda



Google Scholar Profile



Dr Gwynneth Matcher's AGRP Research Group