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Bytom’s Museum pioneers DNA preservation for natural history exhibits, including genetic analysis, conserving rare species, and aiding European bison conservation.
The Museum of Upper Silesia in Bytom is making significant strides in the preservation and analysis of genetic material by establishing a molecular analysis laboratory and a DNA bank for its organic natural history exhibits, primarily insects. With over 500,000 specimens in its collection, the museum is leading the charge in the realm of cultural heritage within the domain of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.
This pioneering laboratory, funded with over 186,000 PLN (Polish zloty), is poised to prepare exhibits in the field of natural heritage, especially invertebrates, for genetic sequencing. Given that insects are the most abundant group in both museum collections and nature, the laboratory is primarily dedicated to them.
Simultaneously, the museum plans to expand its collection of research samples within a DNA bank. The institution has been a trailblazer in such research efforts in cultural heritage institutions under the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. The project began seven years ago, initially focusing on collecting osteological samples.
The Museum of Upper Silesia played a crucial role in the genetic research of the dermoplastic exhibit of the European bison, Planta, a pivotal step in the conservation of the European bison population. Notably, geneticists from Europe and the United States, including Professor Michael Hofreiter, collaborated on this unprecedented endeavor.
The last decades have witnessed significant advancements in genetic research, especially concerning museum materials documenting nature, from contemporary to subfossil organisms and even fossils. Hence, the museum’s decision to establish a state-of-the-art molecular analysis and genetic material conservation laboratory aligns with the latest trends in the field.
The Museum of Upper Silesia houses an impressive collection of over 500,000 zoological, botanical, and geological specimens. Notably, entomological and ornithological collections are among the most valuable. The institution continues to expand its holdings through scientific research and explorations in the Mediterranean region and New Caledonia.