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Informed Biobanking

Saving living biomaterials for U.S. Endangered Species, now while we can

What is Biobanking and why do we need it?

Biobanking means saving living biological materials for the future. Seeds and cells can be stabilized at ultra-low temperatures to protect the characteristic cellular structure, genetic material and population variation for the long term.

Making an Impact

Advancing the Genetic Rescue Toolkit will require living biomaterials. Although we have recently demonstrated that cloning can turn back time, research is underway to develop even more powerful tools for genetic rescue.  For example, our Biotechnology for Bird Conservation program will develop advanced reproductive methods for birds.  As we continue to innovate new tools for conservation, we increasingly realize that the living tissues from today’s endangered species will enable future generations to take advantage of yet unimaginable biotechnologies.

Biobanking decouples sampling and genome sequencing. Biobanked materials enable genomic sequencing that can happen at any time and is not dependent on fresh samples. Conservationists can sequence samples as needed and then use the data to make informed decisions to better manage endangered populations. The Wild Genomes portfolio showcases examples of this approach. By saving living materials, conservationists can sequence to produce impacts today and simultaneously position the biotechnologists of tomorrow. We call this approach “Informed Biobanking”.

How we got involved

From biobanking to a living, breathing animal: watch this video to see how prescient cryopreservation over three decades ago led to the first cloning of a U.S. endangered species.

Where does biobanking stand today?

Genetic rescue requires living cells. But, biobanking living materials has occurred for just 11% of the United States’ 929 endangered plants and less than 20% of its 653 endangered animals.

Ramping up to do better for U.S. endangered species

New cryobiology techniques and streamlined genome sequencing can enable affordable biobanking and sequencing at scale. We envision a bridge between field conservationists and a network of biorepositories working together to build a decentralized redundant system that can maintain cryopreserved materials from diverse taxa and regions.

To jumpstart progress, we need new tools to make biobanking easier, faster, and less artisanal. Revive & Restore is co-developing these three ideas with collaborators:

Generalized kit to enable the collection of living somatic tissues

Digital and printed handbook that includes protocols for various tissues and taxa

Network of field participants and biorepositories
We can do more together!

Check back regularly for updates as more information on Informed Biobanking will be provided as the program develops.