Earth's Life-Forms Collected to Aid in Genetic Research
The Smithsonian plans to create a huge bank of genetic samples to enable study of the planet's diversity through DNA sequencing.
The plan is to eventually freeze embryos, seeds, and other genetic samples from as many of Earth's life-forms as possible. The project will make use of the Smithsonian Institute's biorepository, a 6,500-square-foot, $9 million storage facility that has space for more than 4.2 million tiny vials of cryogenically frozen tissue samples.
That'll be no easy task, but Kirk Johnson, head of the museum, insists it's a crucial shift if the Smithsonian hopes to continue making scientific discoveries. "Museums started with collections of natural objects you could look at," he explained.
"It was Darwin's insight that all of life is related. Those connections used to be made with morphology and anatomy," he added. "That's not good enough anymore."
Morphology and anatomy can't explain, for