Session Spotlight: Barcoding Museum/Herbarium Material

by
Kris Jett
Kris Jett

The countdown to the deadline for abstract submission has begun! Remember, submit by midnight Eastern US Time on 15 June.

Kyle Armstrong, co-chair Barcoding Museum/Herbarium Material

Session Spotlight

Session: Barcoding Museum/Herbarium Material

Session Chair: Kyle Armstrong, Steven Cooper, Hugh Cross and Steve Donnellan

• What does your proposed session cover? Why is it important to barcoding?

Linking DNA barcodes with the established taxonomic framework is of fundamental importance, and the value of natural history collections is greater than ever because of the possibilies that new techniques and techologies bring. The focus of this session will be primarily on techniques for recovering DNA sequences from specimens in natural history collections. Certain species might only be represented by specimens from which the recovery of DNA is challenging because they are old, degraded or mixed in containers with other species. Ideally, the talks will present experiences with both problems and solutions involving non-amplification of barcodes, and contamination of samples from sources in both the collection and the laboratory. Experience with high throughput systems would also be a welcome addition, since there can be challenges for minimising contamination when processes involving low copy number templates are scaled up. If there is sufficient time, the end of the session might be devoted to audience participation through a discussion of some of these issues.

• What is your vision for the 4th Conference?

We hope that this conference will encourage collaboration and integration of efforts to make the best use of resources available for DNA barcoding. We see the value in developing collaborations across institutions and regions, since the focus of many projects is not restricted by national boundaries. In addition, we hope that this conference will provide the opportunity for detailed discussion, both during and after the conference, of some of the practical issues involved in deriving DNA barcodes from specimens in natural history collections.

• What research do you do?

The symposium organisers Armstrong, Cross, Donnellan and Cooper are involved in several relevant areas of research, including the sequencing of various DNA markers from taxonomically informative museum and herbarium specimens, metagenomic studies involving the barcoding of stomach contents to determine the diet of camels, and barcoding projects focusing on frogs, mammals, flora of arid areas, grasses and trees in Australia and the Australasian region. In all of these projects, natural history collections are of paramount importance, and our collective experience in troubleshooting the amplification of difficult DNA templates was the impetus for this session.

• If people are interested in this topic, what can they do to get involved in addition to submitting an abstract?

People interested in this session are encouraged to contact the organisers, especially with queries regarding possible presentations, and by contributing their thoughts on discussion topics before and during the conference. Overall, we hope that participants will be open to developing working groups or wikis so that everyone can benefit from a collective experience in technical matters of DNA amplification from natural history collections in the future.

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