Denver Botanic Gardens has published its first set of Genetic Sample Data to the Global Genomic Biodiversity Network (GGBN). What does that mean, you might ask? It means plant and fungal tissue and DNA samples that are housed here in the Gardens biorepository are now discoverable to scientists across the globe. For example, a researcher studying the genome or genetics of Phacelia formosula can now request tissue samples from Denver Botanic Gardens to use in their study.
The GGBN is part of the Global Genomic Initiative, a project that ultimately aims to catalog and sequence genomes of all living species. This year we joined the GGI-Gardens, a branch of the project that looks to botanic gardens as accessible places to collect samples from taxa that have yet to be sequenced. Over the summer, Wartburg College student Elle Gadient joined us as an intern, collecting tissue samples from plants in the Rock Alpine Garden and the Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory.
And the best part is that every tissue sample is backed by an herbarium voucher specimen! This means the plant the tissue sample was taken from, or another plant from the same population, was collected as a museum specimen and is housed in the Gardens’ Kathryn Kalmbach Herbarium. Herbaria are essentially libraries of plants, filled with pressed and dried specimens. Scientists use specimens from herbaria and other natural history collections to identify, study and conserve plants.