On October 13th, HAL members visited the National Biodiversity Cryobank of Canada, a new facility which opened its doors to the public as part of the Museum of Nature's annual open house event.
The new Cryobank preserves tissue samples and genetic material of plants and animals in freezers that are super-cooled to -170˚C . At this very low temperature, DNA ceases to break down over time and can in theory be stored permanently. On top of preserving some of today's fauna and flora biodiversity, the samples can be useful when studying a variety of biological questions, such as the evolution and relationships of species, conservation management practices, and population dynamics.
At the moment the cryobank has in its stores about 15 000 plant tissues and another 7000 or so from vertebrates. Many are from the Canadian Arctic and the oldest tissues date back to the 1990s. As the collection grows, the cryobank expects to add more freezers and to be able to collect 1 million samples overall.