VINIF.2022.DA00021 "DNA metabarcoding and integrated information database - Implication for Ichthyoplankton survey and fisheries management in Vietnam"

PI: Dang Thuy Binh ( - Nha Trang University; Co-PI: Pham Quoc Huy ( - Southern Research Sub Institute for Marine Fisheries; with project members: Vu Viet Ha - Research Institute for Marine Fisheries, Hoang Duc Huy - University of Science, Vietnam National University Ho Chi Minh City, Nguyen Van Long - Institute of Oceanography, Nguyen Thi Hai Thanh and Vu Dang Ha Quyen - Nha Trang University.

U.S Partners: Christopher Bird - Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi; Diane Pitassy - Division of Fishes, National Museum of Natural History
Project Dates: 2022 - 2025

Project summary

One of the greatest environmental challenges facing Asia is the management and conservation of marine biodiversity and fisheries resources threatened by overexploitation, pollution, habitat destruction, and climate change. Vietnam belongs to the 16 countries that harbor the highest biodiversity in the world, yet knowledge about diversity and life history of fishes remains limited due to lack of taxonomic expertise and biological studies that investigate taxonomy and life cycle of fishes. This problem is reinforced by morphological characters used in fish taxonomy, especially in the early stages as fish eggs and larvae because they can be difficult to use in species identification keys and/or present low or no interspecies variability as demonstrated by DNA barcoding or phylogeographic studies. DNA barcoding studies have been increasingly applied to both marine and freshwater fish fauna. DNA barcode technology can accurately identify any developmental stage of an organism, sometimes only a part of an organism, even if the sample is present in small amounts in the environment (eDNA). However, no molecular taxonomic studies (such as DNA barcode and metabarcoding) have been led on ichthyoplankton monitoring in Vietnam.

In this context, the objective of this project is to initiate a network of scientists working in marine fish diversity and ichthyoplankton, whose coordinated action will result in improved systematics through advanced genomics. The collaboration between five Vietnamese Universities /Institutes (Nha Trang University, Institute of Marine Fisheries, Southern Research Sub Institute for Marine Fisheries, Oceanography Institute, and University of Science, National University HCM City) and Texas A&MCC, NOAA Fisheries, Smithsonian Institution, USA, will be established and strengthened. We will sample fish eggs and larvae in selected spawning grounds and nursery areas, representative for four marine ecozones along the Vietnam coastline: The Gulf of Tonkin, the central waters, the southeast, and southwest waters. Collected fish eggs and larvae will be identified by morpho-anatomical characters, DNA barcodes, and DNA metabarcoding. Additionally, integrated information database will be built to present the morphological, temporal and spatial distribution, and genomic data of marine fishes and ichthyoplankton diversity, and shared between national and international stakeholders and partners. Training sessions on ichthyoplankton survey and identification will be organized for academic researchers, relevant department officers, and students. This project will provide an updated fish species checklist for Vietnam, formal description of new species (if any) and early development stages, and new voucher specimens for national collections in Vietnam and reference DNA barcodes for international databases (GenBank and BOLD). Furthermore, these databases will be used for identifying spawning grounds, and nursery areas for fisheries resource management, integrated with available national databases, and might subsequently be transferred to the Vietnam government agencies (such as national and local Fisheries Departments). Last but not least, a strong scientific network for fish diversity in Vietnam will be created and will contribute to sustainable fisheries management and development.