The cryopreserved vertebrate tissue and cell collection comprises over 5,000 samples, including around 500 mammal species. It enables us to provide live, non-transformed cellular material. A classic karyotypic study is performed for each organism.

This collection is designed for scientific research. It comprises over 5,000 samples (biopsies and cryopreserved cells) from around 500 mammal and vertebrate species, some of which are on the IUCN’s red list. Each cell sample contains around 10 million live cells. Biopsies and cells are protected by a cryoprotectant and stored in liquid nitrogen at - 196 °C. This process enables us to keep cells alive for decades. This collection is computerised.

The collection was started by B. Dutrillaux in 1978 at the Faculté de Médecine (Paris 5) then at the Institut Curie (Paris 5), to develop comparative cytogenetics. V. Volobouev at the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle started adding to the collection in 1986, and F. Richard has been further enriching it since 2011. The material comes from various zoos and especially from field harvests by Muséum staff on their various missions. This collection is the biggest in Europe. It is the world’s 2nd biggest collection of cryopreserved live cells.

The main purpose of the collection is to provide live, non-transformed cellular material. For each animal, a classic cytogenetic study is systematically performed, and for some taxa, comparative cytogenomic studies are carried out. Indeed, the cytogenetic study is sometimes the only way to identify cryptic species that cannot be recognised by classic morphology and morphometry studies. There are other possible uses: cellular biology, source of macromolecules (DNA, RNA, proteins, etc.). Comparative analysis of genomes, systematics, speciation mechanisms, phylogeny, phylogeography and conservation are the collection’s main areas of application.
Its main users are Muséum staff. We are also managing increasingly large numbers of external requests. These requests are examined in collaboration with the members of the research team, and the samples are dispensed sparingly as they are consumable samples.

Michèle Gerbault-Seureau