Sara Ruane


Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Rutgers University-Newark, USA

Title: Phylogenomics using formalin-fixed and preserved specimens

Abstract: Preserved specimens provide important information to biologists, but obtaining genetic data from formalin-fixed and/or fluid-preserved specimens has been challenging. While DNA sequences have been recovered from such specimens, most approaches are time-consuming, producing low data quality and quantity. Here we use a modified DNA extraction protocol combined with high-throughput sequencing to recover DNA from formalin-fixed and fluid-preserved snakes that were collected up to a century ago and for which little or no modern genetic materials exist in public collections. We successfully extracted DNA and sequenced thousands of ultraconserved elements from 10 fluid-preserved snakes and include them here in a phylogeny with modern snake samples. This phylogeny demonstrates the general use of such specimens in phylogenomic studies and provides evidence for the placement of enigmatic taxa that have never before been sequenced. This work highlights the relevance of museum collections in modern research and simultaneously provides a protocol that may prove useful for specimens that have been previously intractable for DNA sequencing.