USFWS Creating a Frozen Library of Biodiversity to Help Endangered Species

"Biobanking enables researchers to preserve genetic diversity in wildlife by freezing and storing living cells."

"The world’s wildlife are facing a barrage of threats caused by climate change, from the loss of suitable habitat to dwindling food supplies. As a result, endangered species across the U.S. are edging closer to extinction at alarming rates—and if they disappear, critical genetic information could vanish with them.

In a new initiative announced on Tuesday, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is working with the nonprofit Revive & Restore and other partners to create a “genetic library” of the country’s endangered species—before it’s too late.

Through a process called biobanking, FWS field staff are gathering biological samples such as blood, tissues and reproductive cells from animals to be cryogenically preserved at extremely low temperatures (at least -256 degrees Fahrenheit) and stored at a USDA facility in Colorado. The samples will also be genetically sequenced and this information will be uploaded to a publicly available database called GenBank, where researchers can study them and compare their genomes to other members of their species.

This frozen library of living cells could be crucial for current and future conservation efforts, particularly for helping introduce genetic diversity into captive breeding programs working to rebuild species populations or even for cloning, experts say."

Kiley Price reports for Inside Climate News October 4, 2023.

Source: Inside Climate News, 10/05/2023