The Australian Biological Tissue Collection (ABTC) was the first frozen tissue collection in any Australian museum and is one of the largest wildlife tissue collections in the world. This important collection encompasses most vertebrate groups as well as a broad representation of major invertebrate groups from Australia and surrounding regions. It has immense research significance for researchers around the world.

The ABTC is the largest tissue bank for wildlife research in the Southern Hemisphere. It contains nearly 125,000 animal and plant samples collected from terrestrial and marine animals since 1979. The ABTC is managed by two staff in the Museum’s Evolutionary Biology Unit.

The samples are carefully maintained to ensure their quality is suitable for detailed biological research using molecular genetic technologies. This involves determining the genetic profiles of samples, either indirectly from structural elements of cells and tissues (proteins), or directly from the primary genetic material of the cells (DNA and RNA).

Most ABTC tissues are stored in ultra-freezers, where the temperature is maintained at approximately -70°C. At this temperature, animal cell structures remain intact, making frozen tissues suitable for protein, DNA and RNA analysis. A smaller proportion of the ABTC is maintained in concentrated alcohol — these samples are typically used for DNA analysis only.

The South Australian Museum’s ABTC is a resource of global importance because of its size, its focus on native Australian fauna, the time span over which good quality tissue collection has taken place (more than 30 years), and its well-organised storage system. Tissue samples from introduced species and animals from other regions such as New Guinea are also a feature of the collection.

Taxonomic range

Kingdoms covered include: Animalia.

Number of specimens in the collection

The estimated number of specimens in the South Australian Museum Australian Biological Tissue Collection is 123,500.

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Metadata last updated on 2018-02-07 08:59:01.0

Digitised records available through the Atlas

The South Australian Museum Australian Biological Tissue Collection has an estimated 123,500 specimens.

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