>> We caution researchers similarly working on multiple
>> wild-collected isolates to preserve voucher specimens and to obtain from
>> these a molecular "barcode," such as a COI gene sequence, to reveal
>> genetic variation in animals used for research.
Preserved and documented historic vouchers relating to any biology project
can be very valuable. In molecular work as in other fields the idea is the
original organism can be rechecked if need be to resolve the problems and
questions that only later become apparent (as happened in the Helobdella
lab cultures), or to apply new techniques.
Long term vouchers kept in a lab are unsafe (people move on, etc,
priorities change) and are more likely to be inadequately labelled and
databased than in a museum. The next step would be to deposit the leech
specimen vouchers in a museum collection, or if already done, to document
the museum vouchers in GenBank. But I could find no record of Helobdella
vouchers there at present which is surprising given the past interest in
the genus. There are, however, plenty of polychaete sequences that are
backed by museum vouchers.
There is a data standard proposal for 'barcoding' which includes as its
first item the statement that metadata linking to the physical voucher
(likely to be the museum name and accession number of the specimen from
which the molecular sequence came) MUST be recorded in GenBank.
This seems to have been accomodated by GenBank as they now allow the
keyword BARCODE to flag new submissions that meet the standards. No
polychaete record yet appears to have used it.
Strongly recommended additional data elements in the standard are latitude
and longitude, name of the identifier, name of the collector, date of
collection, i.e. the minimum background information museum workers expect
to be available to use.