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Mol Ecol Resour. 2011 Nov;11(6):1082-92. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-0998.2011.03052.x. Epub 2011 Jul 25.

Museum genomics: low-cost and high-accuracy genetic data from historical specimens.

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Sciences Department, Museum Victoria, GPO Box 666, Melbourne, Vic. 3001, Australia.


Natural history collections are unparalleled repositories of geographical and temporal variation in faunal conditions. Molecular studies offer an opportunity to uncover much of this variation; however, genetic studies of historical museum specimens typically rely on extracting highly degraded and chemically modified DNA samples from skins, skulls or other dried samples. Despite this limitation, obtaining short fragments of DNA sequences using traditional PCR amplification of DNA has been the primary method for genetic study of historical specimens. Few laboratories have succeeded in obtaining genome-scale sequences from historical specimens and then only with considerable effort and cost. Here, we describe a low-cost approach using high-throughput next-generation sequencing to obtain reliable genome-scale sequence data from a traditionally preserved mammal skin and skull using a simple extraction protocol. We show that single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from the genome sequences obtained independently from the skin and from the skull are highly repeatable compared to a reference genome.

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