Name : Jacqueline Mackenzie-Dodds
Institution : Natural History Museum (NHM) London
Title or job description : Molecular Collections Manager
Country : United Kingdom
Primary or relevant fields of barcoding research : Curation of samples and specimens for and from the Barcoding Pipeline at the NHM London
Featured Member Questions
1. What are you working on now (in regards to barcoding)? How are you currently using barcoding in your research?
We have recently commissioned a new Molecular Collections Facility at the Natural History Museum London. This facility will house all archival molecular collections from NHM researchers and curators, along with fresh field specimen collections from around the world and DNA from traditional collections at NHM London and other museums and herbaria worldwide, a significant proportion of which will be Barcode of life Initiative collections and products (specimens and DNA extractions). These new collections and their associated data will be curated for long term storage and access to the wider scientific community for many different research projects worldwide including barcoding.
2. What is the biggest hurdle to your research?
The DNA and tissue samples will be stored in conditions designed to preserve the highest possible DNA quality for all downstream molecular processes in the future including barcoding. Currently most archival NHM molecular material is held at +4, -20, or -80 degrees Celsius freezers, but samples will be transferred to liquid nitrogen wherever possible over the next few years. In addition to liquid nitrogen storage we will be running research and development projects to investigate the long term efficacy of the many different developing ambient storage systems (FTA, GenTegra, silica gel etc) for whole tissue specimens and nucleic acids, particularly within a museum and herbarium context -- e.g. repair of damaged ancient and archival DNA extracted from traditional collections, optimized storage (empirical data on oxidation and hydrolysis related to DNA damage), and amplification (WGA) of repaired DNAs, making this untapped resource (often from extinct/endangered organisms) available to the rest of the world for research including barcoding projects.
Establishing an efficient Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS), standardizing and tracking data and sample flow from specimen to data export will be essential. Linking workflow processes by integration of existing NHM facilities (Molecular Laboratories, Sequencing Facility, Ancient DNA Extraction Facility) will be our first task to create efficient pipelines from field collection, sample storage and data logging, extraction and amplification laboratory methods, through to sequencing and data generation and export/import.
3. Have there been any discoveries, innovations, new protocols or equipment that have made a big impact on your barcoding research?
High throughput automated sequencing equipment and robotics have revolutionized barcode sequence data output. We anticipate that integrating this with Next Generation Sequencing will take it up a gear further at the NHM (NHM NGS bid in hand). Linking the NHM facilities with compatible robotic systems (e.g. transferrable scripts for cherry picking robots which can be used in sequencing facility and molecular collections facility for pre-and post-PCR processes, QC/QA and loan plates etc across the NHM) will optimize the efficiency (cost and time) of the pipeline workflows.
4. How can Connect help you?
Connect is a fantastic (and enjoyable!) way of catching up with new information, discoveries, etc, especially through the Network Groups (e.g. NELL for the EU). Molecular Collections/Biorepositories are a relatively small part of the picture (front and back end of the barcoding pipeline), but an essential part and any links and flow of information Connect has or makes with biobank research and development worldwide would be very helpful.