Endangered Species Get Iced in Museum DNA Repository
Genetic information from species on National Park Service land that are threatened with extinction will now be frozen and stored for future research at the American Museum of Natural History
Credits: KATHERINE HARMON
MAKING IT OFFICIAL Darrel Frost [
left] associate dean of science for the American Museum of Natural History's collections, and Bert Frost, associate director of natural resource stewardship and science for the National Park Service, sign the agreement to house DNA taken from endangered species on park land at the museum's facilities. KATHERINE HARMON
FRIGID FOG Samples are perched above eight inches (20 centimeters) of liquid nitrogen, so it's the vapor, rather than the liquid itself, that cools and preserves the genetic information.
SPINNING RECORDS The bottom shelf of each vat spins "like a lazy Susan," Feinstein explains, so that lab technicians don't have to reach too far into the vats that are chilled to –256 degrees Fahrenheit (–160 degrees Celsius).
EASY ACCESS Lab manager Julie Feinstein shows what she calls the laboratory's "low-tech" storage technique. Boxes of the DNA samples slide into the racks on the shelf.
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ORGANIZING THE DATA Samples are placed inside tiny vials, which slide into these numbered boxes. Each specimen has a noted location and is tracked with a unique bar code.
COLD STORAGE The Ambrose Monell Collection for Molecular and Microbial Research in the basement of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City houses eight liquid nitrogen–cooled vats to store genetic material from animals. Researchers can access the samples free of charge.
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