Welcome to the Website of the 
Aquatic Division of the molzoolab@UJ

The Molecular Zoology Lab is a molecular research laboratory based at the Department of Zoology, University of Johannesburg, South Africa. 

The Aquatic Division uses genetic and genomic tools to study marine and freshwater animals in southern Africa and elsewhere. Our main focus areas are biogeography, phylogeography, phylogenetics, population genetics, genomics/transcriptomics, conservation biology and invasion biology.

Prof. Peter Teske, University of Johannesburg, Auckland Park 2006, Johannesburg, South Africa; Email: pteske101@gmail.com

                                                                                             Photo: Robert Harcourt

Student Projects/Positions:

We invite applications for the following research projects/positions. Interested South African or international students should please contact the laboratory at pteske101@gmail.com. 

Free-Standing Postdoctoral Positions/Career Advancement Fellowships

Emerging researchers wishing to get experience and improve their publication profile are invited to join the lab and suggest a research project of their choice, or contribute to ongoing projects. We are particularly interested in researchers who have experience with next-generation sequencing data analyses (or at least with unix-based bioinformatics). For details on deadlines and eligibility, please see https://nrfsubmission.nrf.ac.za.


South African or foreign researchers holding a PhD can apply for NRF Free-Standing Postdoctoral Fellowships (R150 000 + R10 000 for travel).

Career Advancement Fellowhips:

South Africans with a minimum of two years of postdoctoral experience can apply for funding via the NRF's Career Advancement Fellowship Programme (R350 000 per year + 100 000 for research). 

Got a gap year and want to get involved in some interesting research? In most cases, our interns get their own projects and are expected to publish at least one paper. 

Latest Publications:

Teske PR, Sandoval-Castillo J, van Sebille E, Waters J, Beheregaray LB (in press)
Oceanography promotes self-recruitment in a planktonic disperser. Scientific Reports.

Larval behaviour is often considered crucial in explaining why some coastal species with planktonic larvae exhibit high levels of genetic structure. Using a seascape genetics approach, we show that on the wide continental shelf of temperate Australia, passive dispersal is sufficient to promote suprisingly high levels of self-recruitment, with the majority of propagules settling in the vicinity of their natal sites. This suggests that the design of many small marine reserves is preferable to establishing a few large ones.

Teske PR, Bader S, Golla TR (2015)
Passive dispersal against an ocean current. Marine Ecology Progress Series.

Genetic methods have revealed that in marine region dominated by boundary currents, passive dispersal may often take place in the direction opposite to the boundary current. This suggests that wind-driven inshore currents play an important role in dispersing such species. We studied gene flow in a coastal limpet with direct development along the south-east coast of South Africa. Two major regional lineages were identified, and even though dispersal was primarily southward (from the northern lineage into the southern lineage), suggesting that the southward-flowing Agulhas Current is important in facilitating connectivity, there was also evidence for some northward dispersal. A detailed analysis of the single haplotype responsible for this finding suggested that its genetic assignment to the northern lineage was questionable, and a likely artefact of incomplete lineage sorting. A survey of the literature indicates that shared ancestral polymorphisms may have influenced inferences of dispersal against the Agulhas Current, and we suggest that not even significant genetic structure may be sufficient to obtain reliable gene flow estimates in such cases.

Teske PR, Sandoval-Castillo J, van Sebille E, Waters J, Beheregaray LB (2015)
On-shelf larval retention limits population connectivity in a coastal broadcast spawner. Marine Ecology Progress Series 531:1-12 Selected as "Feature Article" for the July 2015 edition

Boundary currents (such as the East Australian Current, the California Current and the Agulhas Current) are often considered to be the primary drivers of connectivity among populations of coastal species. Using a combination of microsatellite data and oceanographic modelling, we show that boundary currents in temperate southern Australia are not particularly important in maintaining connectivity in the coastal snail Nerita atramentosa, a species whose larvae remain in the plankton for several months. Few of the species' larvae ever reach the region's boundary currents, and those that do will not return to the coast in time to complete development. As a result, the species' genetic structure follows a pattern of "isolation by geographic distance", suggesting that most planktonic larvae settle close to their parent habitat.