Managing our biodiversity into the future

New methods are making it possible to sequences genomes from formalin-preserved specimens. Australian National Wildlife Collection CSIRO Canberra

Genome analysis has hastened characterisation of Australia’s unique biodiversity. The specimens preserved in our national collections represent an irreplaceable piece of our national research infrastructure as their genomes can tell us about how species have coped in response to environmental change.

In the last few decades, specimen preservation methods have evolved to facilitate streamlined high-quality molecular analyses. Genome sequencing of older specimens – especially those preserved in formalin, remains challenging.

Powered by the Environomics FSP, the Australian National Wildlife Collection is developing protocols to enable whole genome sequencing and characterisation of gene expression from formalin-preserved museum tissues. From these once intractable specimens, we can recover information about how species responded to environmental challenges. Armed with this new data stream, we are better prepared to conserve and manage our biodiversity. This creates positive benefits for Australia’s people, industries and environment in our changing world.

Project Lead: Erin Hahn