The Laboratory for Molecular Systematics and Ecology (LMSE) was formed to improve access to molecular data for systematic and ecological research at the Academy. The processes, techniques and technologies used in molecular research are common across disciplines, and the creation of a shared facility maximizes the efficient use space, expertise and equipment. The administration of lab facilities has been centralized to the Director and Lab Manager. This has simplified the process of identifying lab priorities and allowed the lab to use new funds to provide new and repair existing equipment.
Lab Space and Equipment
To this end LMSE staff have consolidated and redistributed ca. 200 m2 of lab space in four main rooms designated for extraction and PCR work and are equipped with benches, sinks, and hood space. Smaller ancillary spaces contain dedicated areas for ancient DNA extractions, a dark room, as well as standard and cryostorage freezers. Bench space is allocated to research projects in one of the LMSE’s pre-PCR rooms where DNA extractions and PCR reactions are assembled. These rooms are equipped with dry water baths, microfuges, clinical and ultra-centrifuges, micropipettes and fume hoods. Shared post-PCR space is available for the amplification of DNA using any of five thermocyclers, the imaging of PCR products, bacterial transformation and cloning and cycle sequence reactions. These rooms contain the LMSE’s Beckman CEQ 8000 capillary sequencer, mini-gel rigs for gel electrophoresis, bacterial incubators, UV-transilluminators (with a modern Kodak gel imaging system), and photographic equipment. Recently the LMSE has purchased two new thermocyclers that are useful for current research but are also upgradeable to all for lab expansion into new cutting-edge, real-time technologies.
The lab has 2.1m3 of -80˚C freezer space providing cryostorage for the permanent storage of research collections as well as short term storage for samples used in current research conducted by CSBE (Center for Systematic Biology and Evolution) and Patrick Center for Environmental Research staff.
Along with advancing the LMSE’s technology for the collection of molecular data, the lab has sought to modernize our analytical ability. New top-of-the line hardware (as well as support) and software for analysis of is available to all LMSE users. This includes software to visualize PCR products, edit DNA sequences and model evolutionary patterns based upon sequence comparisons.
Frozen Tissue Collection
The Laboratory for Molecular Systematics and Ecology (LMSE) serves as the Academy’s tissue repository that can be useful to future molecular researchers. At present, only Ornithology tissue are accessioned and available for loan, but additional taxa are in the process of being curated will soon be added as loanable material. Funds from the LMSE have been used to significantly increase storage capacity and provide backup systems to maintain a consistent holding temperature of -80°C. Additionally the LMSE is actively upgrading the storage of individual tissue samples to ensure the long-term stability of these specimens.