Museum Epigenomics

Red and orange banksia flower on a branch surrounded by leaves.

Developing a historical molecular toolkit will facilitate management of Australia’s unique flora and fauna. Image by Sandy on Flickr CC By 2.0.

Australian biodiversity is currently threatened by a rapidly changing environment. Can we learn lessons from the past to reduce extinction risk?

The predicted rate of future climate and environmental change is likely to outpace the adaptive capacity of genomic evolution for many species. However, other less well understood mechanisms, such asepigenetic modification, may buffer species against environmental change. Understanding how the epigenome contributes to phenotypic evolution is key to understanding the resilience and adaptability of the Australian biota.

Acquiring historical epigenetic data has so far been deemed largely intractable, due to poor preservation and degradation of old specimens. Our project is leveraging CSIRO’s innovative molecular expertise and the unique historical perspective held in our National Research Collections to eliminate barriers to detecting changes in gene expression and epigenetic modification through time.

We will deliver a historical molecular toolkit that will facilitate sustainable use and management of Australia’s unique flora and fauna.

Lead: Clare Holleley
Collaborators: National Collections & Marine Infrastructure, Oceans & Atmosphere, Health & Biosecurity, Agriculture and Food, Australian National University