Hawaii plant life on ice: preserving Hawaii’s unique plant life for genomic research

Posted February 28, 2018 - 10:18am

The flora of the Hawaiian Islands is comprised of ~90% endemic specie, many of which are threatened or endangered. In 2016 the Global Genome Initiative funded a project, the goal of which was to collect genomic quality DNA samples of as many endemic plant species as possible from the Hawaiian Islands to aid in conservation strategies. The project specifically targeted the endemic plant species of the Compositae from the island of Hawaii as a preliminary effort with collections of other endemic taxa when visiting collecting sites. Geo-referenced samples were pressed as vouchers in the field and genomic-quality leaf material was collected in both silica gel and liquid nitrogen following protocols established by the GGI-Gardens project. Undergraduate students at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, one of the most diverse universities in the nation, were directly involved in collection of samples, preparation of museum vouchers, and preparation of leaf tissue samples for DNA extraction and barcoding at the National Museum of Natural History.

For more information about this project, led by Vicki A. Funk and Warren Wagner of Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History and in partnership with Matthew L. Knope and Jonathan P. Price of University of Hawai'i, Hilo, please visit the project blog by UH Hilo graduate student Jeff Stallman and UH Hilo's Press Release of this project.