S7.2 Appreciating the little things in life: Molecular technologies driving new methodologies in specimen preservation and management


Dr James Macklin1, Dr Matthew Ryan2

1Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ottawa, Canada, 2CABI, Egham, United Kingdom


The advent of the genomic age and the technologies that drive it have made an enormous impact on biological research. One of these major impacts has been the ability to identify and study microorganisms both as individual species and in their associated communities. These organisms occupy an incredibly diverse set of habitats and substrates such as water, soil, air, and in association with living systems (plants, animals, fungi, etc.). These microbiomes are now being sampled at an unprecedented rate and there is an urgent need to preserve the environments in which these organisms live to support future study. Natural history collections have been preserving non-living baseline physical evidence for centuries: the specimen. Similarly, botanical gardens, zoos, and aquaria, and more recently germplasm and culture collections have preserved living specimens. One solution to preserving these microbiomes is biobanking using various cryotechnologies, which has become a necessity to preserve important genetic material for later use. However, other solutions to long-term preservation are also required to maintain these microorganisms in matrix. This reality has begun to put pressure on collection-based institutions to store and manage these new sample/specimen types and their associated data. In this symposium we will discuss the challenges these new preservation methodologies present and potential solutions.

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