Muscat: The Oman Animal and Plant Genetic Resources Centre (OAPGRC) said it gathered data on at least 7,303 species native to Oman.
The research body revealed the final number of species was actually higher and the numbers were still being collated.
OAPGRC is a government body that is under The Research Council, established in 2012 by royal decree. It aims to utilise the rich biodiversity of Oman for economic gain sensibly, while conserving it.
The data collated by the organisation includes 1,400 Omani plant species, 2,600 animals, 2,500 marine species and 803 species of fungi and bacteria.
The organisation has separate platforms to collect the said data on different species. This includes the Genetic Resources Information Platform (GRIP), which has over 13,000 data sets of the plant species.
The Oman Biodiversity Information Platform (OBIP) is a repository of data on animal and marine species. Microbial Database conserves data on fungi and bacteria. It also has the Oman Herbarium collection with 13,098 digitised images of dried plants from the National Natural History Museum. OAPGRC had also established an animal and plant gene bank with the University of Nizwa. This bank houses collections of DNA samples of various species.
“OAPGRC is engaged in conservation and sustainable utilisation activities of genetic resources such as collections, conservation and characterisation and product development of genetic resources.
“It has a special role to accomplish through programmes such as Ideathon and genobusiness for expanding values and such as monthly Science Café for discussions among experts and participants on genetic resources material or issues,” said Nadiya Al Saady, Executive Director of OAPGRC. The research centre also has grand plans of being a centre of excellence not just in Oman but the wider Middle East.
“The OAPGRC has an ambitious mission of promoting Oman’s genetic diversity for recognition and sustainable utilisation for serving people not only in Oman, but all the countries of the Arabian Peninsula region as all these countries are similar in terms of ecosystems and climatic factors on the one hand, and living culture and heritage on the other,” Al Saady added.
The OAPGRC director added that her organisation aimed to help the economy by exploiting natural resources and conserving it. “Oman is endowed with a large wealth of biodiversity, which can be translated into a contribution to the national economy, if appropriately used. Moreover, the OAPGRC helps in maintaining Oman’s biodiversity through developing conservation strategies for plants, animals, microbes and marine organisms for the benefit of the nation,” Al Saady said.
Several programmes have been put in place for the same, she added.
“Ideathons” play role
OAPGRC also organises “ideathons” to extract biodiversity-related business ideas from researchers that may aid job creation. One such initiative was the Manafaa ideathon held last month.
“Special events such as ‘Manafa Ideathon’ manifest the youths’ creative novel ideas related to biodiversity and motivate them to invest in genetic resources in enterprises that are projected through innovation and scientific research,” Al Saady remarked.