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DNA Recovery from Formalin-Fixed Specimens by the Consortium for the Barcode of Life Sponsored by the Consortium for the Barcode of Life.

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Presentation on theme: "DNA Recovery from Formalin-Fixed Specimens by the Consortium for the Barcode of Life Sponsored by the Consortium for the Barcode of Life."— Presentation transcript:

1 DNA Recovery from Formalin-Fixed Specimens by the Consortium for the Barcode of Life Sponsored by the Consortium for the Barcode of Life

2 DNA Barcode: short standardized sequence enabling species discrimination

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4 Barcodes: Developing a Reference Library for Known Species Master key ID all life stages IDs cheap & fast Residual taxonomic uncertainty low

5 DNA Recovery from Formalin-Fixed Specimens

6 Formalin Fixation Routinely used in museum curation and pathology since ~ s of millions of dried, paraffin-embedded tissue samples Museum collections of fish, marine invertebrates, others Principal obstacle to FISH-BOL, other barcoding projects, Census of Marine Life, biomedical research, AToL, etc.

7 NRC Workshop Organized by CBOL, co-funded by: –USDA and EPA –MCZ, Harvard and NESCENT, Duke Univ. –New England Biolabs and Sigma-Aldrich Workshop Committee: –Ann Bucklin (UConn biol. oceanographer), co-chair –Don Crothers (Yale chemist), co-chair –Chris Schander (Univ. Bergen, Norway) –Tim O’Leary (Veterans Admin pathologist) –Alison Williams (Princeton biochemist) 25 Participants: Curators, taxonomists, chemists

8 Workshop Agenda Review past efforts to recover DNA Brainstorm on possible obstacles Develop research agenda aimed at: –Understanding degradation processes –Improving extraction protocols –Developing repair enzymes, reversal processes –Exploring the use of new technologies –Engaging bioinformatics to reassemble fragments

9 Major findings (1) A variety of degradation processes and chemical obstacles are at work: –Cross-linking with proteins –Oxidation –Acidification –Depurination –Cytosine deamination –Formalin-ethanol interaction –Presence of PCR inhibitors –Point mutations –Denaturation

10 Major findings (2) Different degradation processes may leave chemical/physical signatures Some degradation processes may be reversible, or damage may be repairable Curatorial practices vary widely Relation between curation and degradation processes can be established Some specimens will be hopeless (pH 2.0)

11 Major findings (3) Taxonomists have created “cottage hobby” to extract DNA from formalinized tissue More systematic experimental approach is needed Chemical/physical indicators could: –Identify most promising specimens –Suggest optimal extraction procedures –Lead to improved fixation methods –Identify hopeless specimens

12 Next Steps (1) Understand curatorial processes: How has formalin been used (and is being used) in museums? –Survey selected museums Understand degradation processes: Which processes are at work, and what indicators do they leave? –Analysis of Smithsonian “goldfish time capsule” –Analysis of museum specimens with well-documented curatorial histories

13 Next Steps (2) Characterize formalinized specimens: How does their chemistry vary? –Develop battery of chemical/physical indicators linked to degradation processes –pH, NMR, fragment size, free purines, others Develop a public knowledge base of extraction protocols: What works and what doesn’t? –Compile published studies –Call for information on unpublished studies –Link curatorial history and extraction method to success or failure of DNA recovery

14 Next Steps (3) Test extraction methods in context: Which methods work relative to curatorial history and indicator data? –Create network of cooperating labs, museums –Standardize battery of extraction protocols –Standardize collection of curatorial histories and indicator data (like patient history and vital signs) –Calibrate labs using “Goldfish Standard” –Test across extraction methods, curatorial histories, indicator data

15 Interested in Participating? CBOL and SPNHC will collaborate Contact CBOL Secretariat Office. Write to: or –David Schindel, CBOL Executive Secretary –Andrew Bentley, Collection Manager, Ichthyology, KU Natural History Museum


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