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You are here: Home / Library / RBINS Staff Publications / Applicability of DNA barcoding to museum specimens of birds from the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Gontran Sonet, Floris C Breman, Michel Louette, Gloria Montanes, Zoltan T Nagy, Van H Jeroen, and Erik Verheyen (2011)

Applicability of DNA barcoding to museum specimens of birds from the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Bonner Zoologische Monographien(57):117-131.

The ornithological collections of the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren and the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in Brussels contain approximately 155 000 specimens collected in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) . They include type specimens and other samples from historical populations that represent an exceptional source of information for exploring how habitat fragmentation due to deforestation or global climate changes affect patterns of biodiversity in African birds . By attempting to obtain DNA sequences from these archive collections we intend to make them useful for genetic studies and to contribute to a reference library of DNA sequences, thus allowing the future iden- tification of Central African bird species through DNA barcodes . Our project aims to sequence approximately 950 mu- seum specimens, representing 225 species, collected between 1845 and 2008 . Our preliminary results reveal that the degradation of DNA in most museum specimens does not allow the amplification of the standard DNA barcode fragment (694 bp) . Nevertheless, we have been able to sequence shorter fragments (298 bp and 100 bp) for the majority of the selected specimens, implying that the collections in the RMCA and the RBINS contain DNA information that remains useful for barcoding purposes . More elaborate experiments might yield longer DNA sequences for phylogenetic and phylogeographic studies .

Peer Review, International Redaction Board, RBINS Collection(s)
Democratic Republic of the Congo, archival DNA, DNA barcoding, COI, Aves, museum sample
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