Destructive Sampling

UNB's Destructive Sampling Guidelines

Destructive sampling of specimens for research typically involves irreversible damage and decisions on such matters are thus taken only after due consideration. The primary principle in evaluating any request is whether or not the ends justify the means, i.e., does the quality and quantity of the expected outcomes generate sufficient value-added knowledge of the specimen to offset the expected damage to that specimen.

All requests start with an official borrower (curatorial staff at a recognized herbarium) facilitating the completion of "UNB’s Destructive sampling request & guidelines" form (available in MS Word format or PDF format) with the proposed User. It is critical that this form clearly state:

  • The name(s) of the user(s) who will perform the actual study on the requested specimens.
  • The qualifications and experience of the listed user(s) including documented evidence of skill and competence in completing the proposed destructive procedures.
  • A brief outline of the research project with detailed emphases of the extent (i.e., amount of material to be removed) and the nature of the destructive sampling as well as the expected outcomes to be gained as a result of the outlined procedures.

Requests for destructive sampling for the purposes of microscopical examination will generally receive acceptance, but it is critical that all subsamples (example slides) be properly labeled and returned with the respective specimen(s). Requests for destructive sampling for the purposes of DNA extraction will only be approved under exceptional circumstances. In addition to the standard guidelines, requests for destructive sampling for the purposes of DNA extraction will:

  • In all cases require proven experience in carrying out the isolation of DNA from archival material.
  • Require clear and detailed outlines of the laboratory protocols including an explanation of the steps to be undertaken to reduce the possibility of extraneous DNA contamination during all handling and molecular protocols, a full indication of the controls to be incorporated during DNA extraction and PCR procedures to assess the previous, the nature of the marker region to be sequenced and the primers that will be used to carry out PCR amplification, and the nature of any replicate trials (from specimen, from DNA, etc.) that will be carried out to confirm the results.
  • Require that all sequence data be entered in Genbank with the source herbarium and specimen accession number included in the entry.

If a request for destructive sampling for the purpose of DNA extraction is approved, subsampling will be completed on behalf of the User by UNB staff. The User will be provided with an image of the specimen and asked to provide a detailed explanation of the subsample requested and the method for its removal, storage and transport. If extraordinary costs are associated with the removal, handling and/or transport of subsamples, the User will be advised of this prior to the removal of tissue and must consent to covering these expenses for the subsampling to be completed.

At UNB we encourage the use of our specimens for the advancement of scientific knowledge and we will make every effort to accommodate all reasonable requests. However, all decisions on the loan of specimens and their subjection to destructive sampling will be considered carefully to ensure that the ends do justify the means and all decisions must be respected with specimens only subjected to approved procedures. Violating the conditions of the loan of a specimen(s) can result in the loss of future borrowing privileges.