LSU professor extracts DNA from 100-year old specimens to be pre - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

LSU professor extracts DNA from 100-year old specimens to be preserved for future scientific research

Christopher Austin (Source: LSU Museum of Natural Science) Christopher Austin (Source: LSU Museum of Natural Science)
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) -

A LSU professor and his collaborator have preserved DNA from multiple 100-year-old snakes, lizards, frogs, fish, and other animal specimens that can last for up to 500 years.

LSU Museum of Natural Science curator and professor, Christopher Austin, and his collaborator, Rutgers-Newark assistant professor, Sara Ruane, have developed a protocol and tested a method for DNA sequencing of thousands of genes from these intractable snake specimens.

On Tuesday, January 24, their research was published in the international scientific journal, Molecular Ecology Resources. Austin and Ruane tested an approach that includes taking a small piece of liver tissue from the snake specimen, heating it up over a long period of time, and applying an enzyme that digests the tissue sample and enables the DNA to be extracted.

"The exciting thing about this work is that it makes species that have been essentially lost to science, due to extirpation, rarity, or general secretiveness, which applies to many animals and not just snakes, available for scientific research in the modern age of genomics,” Ruane said.

Their protocol preserves the specimen so additional information can be collected from the specimen in the future. 

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