Barcoding the Kruger Park

Botanists are collecting all the plants in the Kruger Park, according to this article. Fine, admirable: it’s good to have a full inventory of the flora of such an important protected area. We’ll know what crop wild relatives and medicinal plants grow there, for example, and thus perhaps be in a better position to tailor management interventions to suit them (at least in some parts of the park), and monitor changes. But actually that’s not why the specimens are being collected. Rather:

“We hope to be the team to identify the genetic bar-code for plants,” said team leader Dr Michelle van der Bank of the department of Botany and (Plant) Biotechnology.

That’s at the University of Johannesburg. I’m not sure I understand the logic, though. I doubt the Kruger is the most botanically diverse place in South Africa, or the most convenient (not to say safe) to collect in. What am I missing here? Anyway, it should make for some fun fieldwork.

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