During the last decade, DNA-based methods have changed biological research dramatically. However, the scientific community has not yet made the storage of DNA material in natural history collections a matter of general routine. To verify or continue molecular studies of an object, it is currently necessary to contact the author or the institutions in which the studies took place. With short term contracts and rapid turnover of personnel, now the norm in scientific institutions, it is often difficult or even impossible to access original specimens or DNA samples. Thus, falsifiability of results and original data - the foundation of good scientific practice - can no longer be guaranteed. The lack of data verification has been noted in several scientific publications stating that up to 20% of the sequences in public DNA databases are inaccurate or falsely annotated, with sometimes limited or even no possibility of verification (Bridge et al. 2003).
Awareness about the importance of long-term storage and safeguarding of DNA from the full diversity organisms for scientific purposes has increased over the last few years. In several countries and institutions worldwide, significant efforts are being made to overcome this deficit (e.g. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; Korean Plant DNA Bank, Missouri Botanical Garden, Leslie Hill Molecular Systematics Laboratory at Kirstenbosch, Jardin Botanico Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco Zoo, Dallas Zoo, etc.) and DNA banks are being established.
Since October 2004, a DNA bank pilot project has been in progress at the BGBM (http://www.bgbm.org/bgbm/research/dna/default.htm).
Bridge, P.D., Roberts, P.J., Spooner, B.M. & Panchal, G. (2003): On the unreliability of published DNA sequences. New Phytologist 160: 43-48. Download