State-of-the-art tissue and DNA storage facility in RMCA and RBINS

Preservation of tissue and DNA samples improved in RMCA and RBINS

Thanks to the National Lottery, research units of the RBINS and RMCA are now able to use a state-of-the-art storage facility for their collections of biomaterials such as tissue and DNA extracts. These collections are essential for molecular genetic analyses and valuable in many scientific investigations such as species identification, biodiversity assessments, population genetics, wildlife forensics, study of evolution, etc.

Rack of 48 times 2DCYPHER vials for the tissue collection Close-up view of a 2D-barcoded vial for tissue collection VisionMate 2D-barcode reader Tissue collection ready to be stored at -80°C.

Without proper storage conditions, thousands of DNA extracts and tissue samples such as blood, hair, pieces of bones, liver or other soft and hard tissue are subjected to irreversible degradation and may become useless for any genetic investigation… With the setup of this new, high-capacity storage system, tissue and DNA samples can now be permanently deposited in a common collection with adequate storage conditions and a standardized management. 

The system has a capacity for the preservation of ca. 100 000 samples in total, which will be sufficient to harbour all biological samples handled by our researchers for the next 10 – 15 years. By now, all components necessary to preserve important collections of DNA and tissue samples are available: one type of vials is designed to stock tissue samples and will be deposited in ultra-low temperature freezers (-80 °C). Another kind of vials contains an inert matrix that is designed to preserve DNA under dry conditions and at room temperature. Both kinds of tubes are 2D-barcoded and can easily be scanned. Each 2D-barcode is unique and is used as a digital identifier. Based on these codes, position information and traceability of each sample is maintained by a database that is linked to the main collection database of the scientific specimen collection of RBINS (DaRWIN). In addition, specialised software can analyse and evaluate the quality of the DNA at any stage of the conservation.

Why are collections of tissue and DNA samples separated from traditional museum collections?

Natural history collections hold unique samples of historical populations. They are necessary as being reference material for many genetic analyses. However, obtaining high quality genetic information from museum specimens is often expensive and time consuming because DNA molecules of archival samples can be considerably degraded. Tissue and DNA samples require completely different ambient conditions for optimal preservation than specimens do. With the current system we ensure a long-term storage environment under controlled conditions.

GenTegra 96 cluster tube ready-to-use format for long-term DNA storage Close-up view of a GenTegra 2D-barcoded vial for DNA storage GenTegra FastDryer necessary to dry DNA extracts for storage at room temperature Vial and plate (on the left) for DNA transfert to (or recovering from) the inert matrix enclosed in the small vial on the right

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith