In recent decades, DNA molecule sequencing has become much more widespread thanks to technological progress and lower costs. This democratisation has enabled the Muséum and its researchers to invest in these DNA sequencing activities.
The diversity and scale of the Muséum’s collections offer a vast resource for molecular data production. This concerns marine invertebrates in particular. Since the 2000s, the DNA of many collection specimens has been extracted and sequenced. In the interests of traceability, a collection of DNA extracts has been built up. This collection is preserved at - 20°C in the DNA extraction buffer. It includes (in 2014), a group of 25,000 molluscs (of which 38 are holotypes and 87 paratypes), and over 4,500 crustaceans (of which 167 are holotypes and 357 paratypes).
Sequencing activities for the purpose of DNA barcoding began in 2008 as part of the MarBol (Marine Barcode of Life) programme. The objective of this project was to molecularly characterise the molluscs and marine crustaceans in the Muséum’s collections by sequencing a fragment of the COI gene, used for its ability to discriminate between different animal species (hence the term “DNA “barcode“). Collections of tissue samples and DNA extracts were then created in parallel with the sequencing activity. The challenge was to maintain a secure, long-term link between the specimens, samples, DNA extracts and nucleic acid sequences produced. This programme served as a pilot and made it possible to set up the chain of work that ensures data traceability and quality.
This molecular management protocol is now part of a broader context than the MarBoL project. It is suitable for all the Muséum’s collections and all research projects including a DNA analysis of preserved specimens in the collections. The enrichment and management of the tissue and DNA collections is made possible by the support of recent scientific expeditions and associated research projects (phylogeny, integrative taxonomy, evolutionary processes, etc.).