Dr Willem Coetzer
Senior Officer
Genetics Building
Room A9
IB 116
Genetics Administration Block A A9

Short CV

I completed my Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in Genetics, at the University of Pretoria in 2006. From 2008 to 2012, I attended the University of the Free State and completed both my BSc Honours and Master of Science (MSc) degrees in Genetics. My MSc degree, with the title “Patterns of genetic diversity in vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus aethiops) from the south-eastern regions of South Africa”, was obtained with distinction. In 2013, I furthered my studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, with a PhD focusing on the systematics and biogeography of the Cape Parrot (Poicephalus robustus). My thesis supported previous ecological and behavioural research, which identified the Cape Parrot as a separate species. Cape Parrots were previously not recognised by CITES or IUCN as a distinct species due to the lack of genetic data. Both organisations now recognise these parrots as a separate species. On completion of my PhD studies in 2015, I joined the University of the Free State as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow expanding my vervet monkey research and exploring the effects of natural and human-mediated selection on South African animal species. Since 2018, I have been employed at the Department of Genetics as a Senior Professional Officer. My research focus has recently expanded to included research with a more holistic view of ecosystem biodiversity. During these projects, several DNA barcoding methods will be used to assess microbiome, animal and plant biodiversity in ecologically diverse grassland regions.

Web of Science ResearcherID: U-4793-2017

ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2189-5539



Peer-reviewed publications:

Bairu WM, Coetzer WG, Amelework AB. 2020. Development of an SSR-based DNA fingerprinting method for black wattle (Acacia mearnsii De Wild). New Zealand Journal of Forestry Science. 50(6). https://doi.org/10.33494/nzjfs502020x56x

Coetzer WG, Coetzee L, Casson E, GroblerJP, Schneider S-R, Boucher C. 2020. A preliminary assessment of skin microbiome diversity of zebrafish (Danio rerio): South African pet shop fish. Indian Journal of Microbiol. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12088-020-00900-8

Coetzer WG,Downs CT,Perrin MR, Willows-Munro S. 2020. Influence of historical and contemporary habitat changes on the population genetics of the endemic South African parrot Poicephalus robustus. Bird Conservation International. 30(2): 236-259. doi: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0959270919000315

Coetzer WG and Grobler JP.2019. Genetic variation among different springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis) colour variants. Mammalian Biology. 99:42-53. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mambio.2019.10.006

Bairu WM, Coetzer WG, Amelework AB.2019. Tracing the genetic origin of two Acacia mearnsii seed orchards in South Africa. South African Journal of Botany, 126: 70-77. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sajb.2019.07.045

Coetzer WG and Grobler JP. 2018. Identifying Rhabdomys museum specimens following taxonomic changes: use of short COI sequences. Vertebrate Zoology, 68(3): 191-197.

Coetzer WG, Turner TR, Schmitt CA and Grobler JP. 2018. Adaptive genetic variation at three loci in South African vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) and the role of selection within primates. PeerJ, 6:e4953 doi:

Grobler JP, Hayter KN, Labuschagne C, Nel EJ and Coetzer WG.2017. The genetic status of naturally occurring black-nosed impala from Northern South Africa. Mammalian Biology - Zeitschrift für Säugetierkunde, 82:27-33 doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mambio.2016.10.004

Coetzer WG, Downs CT, Perrin MR, and Willows-Munro S.2017. Testing of microsatellite multiplexes for individual identification of Cape Parrots (Poicephalus robustus): paternity testing and monitoring trade. PeerJ, 5:e2900. doi:

Woogeng IN, Coetzer WG, Etchu KA, Ndamukong KJN, and Grobler JP.2017. Current patterns of genetic diversity in indigenous and introduced species of land snails in Cameroon reflect isolation by distance, limited founder size and known evolutionary relationships. Mitochondrial DNA Part B, 2:375-380. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/23802359.2017.1347837

Turner TR, Coetzer WG, Lorenz JG, Freimer NB, Schmitt CA and Grobler JP. 2016. Localized population divergence of vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus spp.) in South Africa: evidence from mtDNA. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 159:17-30. doi: https://doi.org/10.1002/ajpa.22825

Coetzer WG, Downs CT, Perrin MR and Willows-Munro S.2015. Molecular systematics of the Cape Parrot (Poicephalus robustus): implications for taxonomy and conservation. PlosOne, 10(8): e0133376. doi: https://doi.org/10.1002/ajpa.22825

Grobler JP, Coetzer WG, Schmitt CA, Lorenz JG, Turner TR.2014. Genetic differentiation in South African vervet monkeys: landscape features define routes of migration. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 153:131.

Book chapters:

Turner T, Hill R, Coetzer WG, Patterson L. 2016. A conservation assessment of Chlorocebus pygerythrus. In Child MF, Roxburgh L, Do Linh San E, Raimondo D, Davies-Mostert HT, editors. The Red List of Mammals of South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho. South African National Biodiversity Institute and Endangered Wildlife Trust, South Africa.

Coetzer WG, Lorenz JG, Freimer NB, Grobler JP. 2019. Population Genetic Structure of Vervet Monkeys in South Africa. In: Turner TR, Schmitt CA, Cramer JD (eds) Savanna Monkeys: The Genus Chlorocebus. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 101–108. doi: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781139019941.008

Publications in review:

Bairu WM, Amelework AB, Coetzer WG. In review. Genetic diversity and population structure of six South African Acacia mearnsii breeding populations based on SSR markers

Jasinska AJ, Dong TS, Lagishetty V, Katzka W, Jacobs JP, Schmitt CA, Cramer JD, Ma D, Coetzer WG, Grobler JP, Turner TR, Freimer N, Pandrea I, Apetrei C. In review. Shifts in microbial diversity, composition and functionality in the gut and genital microbiome during a natural SIV infection in vervet monkeys. doi: https://doi.org/10.21203/rs.2.24430/v1

Blom E, Coetzer WG,Schneider S-R and Grobler JP. In development. The phylogenetic position of zebrafish (Danio rerio) from South African pet shops.


Publications (Short List)

Peer-reviewed publications: 10

Book chapters: 2

Conference presentations: 17



Area(s) of Interest

One of my research interests is on the adaptive genetic variation of southern African animal species. I focus on observed genetic differences between populations of South African animal species and how it relates to environmental and/or habitat changes. These could be due to both anthropogenic and natural factors. Animal species under strong human mediated selection as well as wild populations are used for this research. Various adaptively significant and selectively neutral markers are utilized in these studies. The use of Next-generation Sequencing (NGS) technologies has also been explored to further our understanding of adaptations in wild and captive animal populations.

South African biodiversity is another interest of mine. Globally, South Africa has some of the highest levels of biodiversity. Many of our regions are however understudied, and the exact levels of biodiversity is unknown. The Barcode of Life Data (BOLD) System houses a global database of DNA barcodes of numerous animal and plant taxa. Large parts of South African biodiversity is, however, not represented on this database. I am therefore also interested in contributing to filling these knowledge gaps by initiating DNA barcoding projects in some of our countries` under-presented areas.

Courses Presented

Community Service

Service Learning


Elfrieda Lötter: Marketing Manager
T: +27 51 401 2531

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