Network Activity E- Molecular collections

Molecular research is a rapidly advancing theme, and the objectives of NA E have altered over the life of the project to reflect this, and to ensure the work is original and necessary.

NA E is now working at assisting NA C in detailing and improving collections standards with a focus on molecular collections (which are not covered by NA C) and developing a disaster plan template.

Aims and objectives

NA E originally aimed to develop storage facilities and develop retrieval systems for new types of collections, e.g. tissue banks and DNA samples. Work was due to start two years into the project, but by this time research was already being done on this elsewhere. As a result the aims of the NA changed.

NA E decided instead to establish appropriate standards fro collection, curation and preservation.

  • Assess current practice in European institutions
  • Identify strengths and weaknesses/ areas of commonality etc.
  • Derive a SYNTHESYS standard for molecular collections
  • Provide recommendations for a future network of new collections
  • Collaborate with NA C to produce a European disaster plan and create a support network for new collections
  • Identify areas for future of research that will potentially increase the value of traditional collections to molecular study

Progress report

Collections standard

NA E undertook a survey of global molecular collections standards and constructed a questionnaire based on these. The draft questionnaire was subsequently tested at two UK institutions of widely different levels and scales of sophistication. The questionnaire was subsequently improved and circulated to a number of European institutions; responses were received from 21 of these

The results are currently being analysed and a report will be produced in July 2009.

A literature review on the relationships between standard museum collection treatments (e.g. drying or preserving in alcohol) and the success of obtaining molecular data from the collections has also been completed and a report is being written, due for completion July 2009.

European molecular collections network

Two meetings of key molecular staff in SYNTHESYS consortium institutions have taken place. This group will form the basis of the network. Individuals from this group are promoting the work of NA E at external events and gaining interest from potential new members.

Disaster planning

This is being done in conjunction with NA C - Two meetings to discuss issues surrounding disaster planning in natural history collections have taken place at the Museo National de Ciencias Naturales, Madrid.

Outcomes and deliverables

Collections standard

The results of the survey are being analysed. A report is due in July 2009

A literature review on the relationships between standard museum collection treatments (e.g. drying or preserving in alcohol) and the success of obtaining molecular data from the collections has been completed and a report is being written, due for completion July 2009.

European molecular collections network

Two meetings of key molecular staff in SYNTHESYS consortium institutions have taken place. This group will form the basis of the network.

Disaster planning

This is being done in conjunction with NA C.

Events

There are no further NA E events planned

The results of NA E will be presented at SPNHC 2009 (Leiden, July 2009)

Where next

The standards and disaster planning work will be continued in NA 2