Museum specimens as DNA sources?

Dr. Andrew G. McArthur mcarthur at onyx.si.edu
Mon Dec 8 11:06:44 EST 1997

We do it all the time with formalin preserved molluscs (using kit-based
extractions with modifications helps greatly).  Here are some citations:

Deagle et al. 1996. Origins of endemic stickleback from the Queen
Charlotte Islands: mitochondrial and morphological evidence. Canadian
Journal of Zoology 74(6): 1045-?.

The protocol they used was:

Shiozawa et al. 1992. DNA Extraction from preserved trout tissues. Great
Basin Naturalist 52(1): 29-34.

This protocol is basically an extensive ProtK/SDS digestion followed by
ethanol precipitation of DNA and works for both EtOH and formalin/EtOH
preserved material (vertebrate and invertebrate).  France & Kocher (Mol.
Mar. Biol. Biotech. 5: 304-313), Vachot & Monnerot (Ancient Biomolecules
1: 3-16), and Shedlock et al. (Biotechniques 22: 394-400) all use
variations on this protocol, although Shedlock et al. added several things
in hopes of enhancing the protocol.

I've used CTAB methods but they are inferior to the Shiozawa et al.
methods.  I am now using a Qiagen kit that does the Shiozawa et al.
chemistry but uses an affinity column to isolate the DNA instead of using
precipitation.  The results are unbelievably good, as would be expected
from a column.  The protocol for using the Qiagen kit is from some
colleagues at UMass (in press). 

Dr. Andrew G. McArthur, Postdoctoral Fellow, Laboratory of Molecular
Systematics, Smithsonian Museum Support Center, 4210 Silver Hill Road,
Suitland, Maryland 20746, U.S.A.

Phone: (301) 238-3444 Ext. 112, Fax: (301) 238-3059
mcarthur at onyx.si.edu, http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/8431/

> Dear Molecular Evolutionists,
> Does anyone know of a pubished study that employed old, museum specimens 
> as sources of DNA for phylogenetics?  I am not interested in 
> paleo-research and Ancient DNA, but rather would like to address the 
> question of the efficiency and feasibility of using, often 
> more-available, museum specimens rather than field-collected, freshly 
> frozen specimens.
> I know of Phillips & Simon's 1995 paper, which demonstrates that it is 
> possible to use old specimens, but has anyone made it work for an entire 
> study?

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