Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

New Genetics Laboratory

Te Papa Botany curator Carlos Lehnebach looking at spider orchid DNA in the new lab. Source: Te Papa Blog.

Lara Shepherd, Te Papa’s new DNA lab is up and running, Te Papa Blog 12 October 2015

Last week I performed the first DNA extraction in Te Papa’s brand new genetics laboratory. Our lab is the first genetics lab in a New Zealand museum and will allow Te Papa scientists to analyse the DNA of our unique plants and animals.

Genetic information is increasingly being used to examine the relationships between species and help us discover new species, such as these recently described hagfish. We can also use DNA to learn more about individual specimens in Te Papa’s collections, such as these kiwi skins whose identification was uncertain.

The first experiment I’ve done in the new lab is to isolate DNA from a few extra clubmoss samples to bump up sample numbers for a publication. This builds on the work done by Delaney Burnard for her MSc at Victoria University. Delaney finished her thesis earlier this year and recently started a PhD at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

Most of these extra clubmoss samples are from New Zealand but I also included a few samples  from Fiji and New Caledonia collected by Botany curator Leon Perrie, such as Lycopodium clavatum pictured below.

I look forward to sharing some of the results from this research, and other work we are doing in the new DNA lab, in future blogs.

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