Cabinet of MCZ specimens Photo: Mark Sloan from The Rarest of the Rare, 2004
Since the ratification of The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), new rules have steadily increased in many countries governing access, collection and/or exportation of genetic resources. With this increased complexity, existing genetic collections are under more pressure as they work to accommodate increasing demands while complying with more regulations.
The Cryogenic Collection at the MCZ was created to house the genetic resource holdings of the MCZ departmental collections and assist researchers in addressing the growing intricacies and concerns related to the conservation of genetic samples. These resources have become an integral part of natural history museum collections as they are increasingly used in genetic and genomic studies. Samples include frozen tissues, chemically preserved tissues, and/or associated extracts; the consumptive nature of their use differentiates them from typical museum specimens.
This new genetic resource collection centralizes maintenance, standardizes procedures, promotes research accessibility and prioritizes long-term conservation of these resources for MCZ researchers and the scientific community. This facility includes state-of-the art liquid nitrogen storage equipment for genetic samples, which maintains samples in extremely low temperatures and provides temperature stability regardless of power interruptions. Metadata associated with genetic samples, including barcode data that tracks the exact location of each sample, are stored and accessed using the museum’s centralized database, MCZbase.
The Cryogenic Collection also facilitates loans of genetic samples that have been approved by the MCZ departmental collections. The Cryogenic facility processes and ships aliquots to approved researchers, maximizing the use of these valuable resources. See the appropriate MCZ departmental collection for specific information on loan policies.