Different Linking Sequence Data Records to their Voucher Specimens

Molecular data such as DNA sequences are an important and growing component of biological research.  In research fields such as taxonomy and evolutionary biology, it is critically important to associate gene sequence data with morphological, ecological, behavioral, and other types of data.  The goal of this on-line registry is to create a system that permits records in nucleotide sequence databases (as well as other kinds of databases) to include links that point to the voucher specimens from which the DNA sequences were derived.

The Consortium for the Barcode of Life (CBOL) proposed a method for linking sequence records to voucher specimens to GenBank at the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) in 2005.  This method was developed in collaboration with the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and other major biodiversity database initiative.  The linkage uses a structured data format (see FAQs) based on the Darwin Core data standards developed by the Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG, formerly the Taxonomic Database Working Group).  The data format was accepted by GenBank and then proposed to EMBL, and DDBJ, the other members of the International Nucleotide Database Collaboration (INSDC).  The structured data field for voucher specimens was approved by the INSDC in May 2005).

Institutional Acronyms and Collection Codes

The structured datafield for voucher specimens consists of three parts:

The universally-recognized acronym for the institution that holds the voucher specimen,

The institution’s code for the collection in which the voucher specimen is kept, and

The unique catalog number (or other identifier) in the catalog of specimens in that collection.

By combining these three elements, the voucher specimen datafield should point to a unique specimen.  A voucher specimen may be the source of many samples (frozen tissue, skeleton, DNA, etc.), and associating these samples with the original specimen can be a significant challenge.  This registry does not address this issue.

This on-line registry permits biorepositories to register their institutional acronyms and collection codes.  

A “biorepository” can be

  1. a museum, herbarium, zoo, or botanical garden,
  2. a culture collection, or medical research institute,
  3. an individual researcher, or a private collector, or
  4. any other refernce collection of biological specimens used for research.

The data collected through this registry will become part of NCBI’s data infrastructure and will be incorporated into the Biodiversity Collections Index (BCI), a central repository of information on biological collections.

Non-Institutional Biorepositories

Individual researchers and private collectors are urged to register their collections if they will be used as voucher specimens for molecular studies.  Using this online registry, they will be grouped together under the common institutional acronym “personal” and will have unique collection codes under that institution.

Using the Registry

This online database was initially populated with approximately 7,000 institutional acronyms compiled by NCBI from publications (e.g., the 1993 Insect and Spider Collections of the World) and directories of repositories (e.g., Index Herbariorum).  

To register an institutional acronym,

Look for the institution in the database by going to Institution on the blue navigation bar above and selecting Find and Institution.  You can sort the list by acronym, institution name, or country, and you can search by acronym, institutional name, city, state, or country.

If you find the institution and wish to register the acronym listed with the institution name, then click on Edit and fill in the required information.

If you find the institution but wish to register it under a different acronym, then go to Institution on the blue navigation bar and select Create an Institution.  Complete all the required information, save, and confirm the data.

If the acronym listed for your institution is also being used by another institution, a message to that effect will appear.  Please either select a different acronym or contact us to resolve the conflict.

After confirming the institutional data, you will be asked if you wish to register the collections within the institution.  Many institutions have multiple collections, and it’s essential to know the codes for the collections in order to distinguish specimens in different collections that might bear the same catalog numbers (e.g., ABC:Birds:12345 versus ABC:Fish:12345).  

Enter the required information records for each of the collections maintained by the institution. If the institution has a single collection (as defined below), this step can be skipped and you can exit the registry.

After the institution and collection data have been entered, saved and confirmed, confirmation emails will be sent to all the contact addresses entered.  The institution will be contacted by email or phone to confirm the authenticity of the entries. A new record will not appear on the registration site until it has been confirmed independently.

For the present purpose, a collection is defined as a set of specimens that are cataloged with a separate numbering system. If an institution uses a single numbering system for all its specimens, then it has a single catalog for a single collection. If an institution uses the same numbering system for three different sets of specimens (e.g., mammals, birds and fish), then it has three collections with separate catalogs for each one.

Non-Institutional Collections

The registry may contain acronyms that have been used previously to identify specimens in GenBank that are held by individual researchers and private collectors.  For this reason, people wishing to register their non-institutional collections should use the procedure described above.  When they specify that theirs is a non-institutional collection, the system will automatically register the acronym as a collection within the shared institutional acronym “personal”. 

Discover More

Creating places that enhance the human experience.

We always put people and nature at the center of our projects.
Useful options
Beautiful snippets
Amazing pages

Building Repositories

A Harvard University - Arnold Arboretum 22 Divinity Avenue Cambridge U.S.A. Confirmed View

Add collection

AA Ministry of Science, Academy of Sciences ALMA-ATA Kazakhstan Confirmed View

Add collection

AAAG Alan and Anita Gillogly Unconfirmed Edit

AAFC-PRC Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Potato Research Station Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada/Agr... et Agroalimen... Canada Fredericton Canada Confirmed View

Add collection

AAH Arnold Arboretum, Harvard University The Arborway, Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, 02130 JAMAICA PLAIN U.S.A. Confirmed View

Add collection

AAPI Plant Industry Laboratory Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta Agriculture Canada Unconfirmed Edit

AAR Reliquae Aaronsohnianae ZICHRON-YAAKOV Israel Confirmed View

Add collection

AAS British Antarctic Survey High Cross Cambridge U.K. Confirmed View

Add collection

AAU University of Aarhus Building 137, Universite... DK-8000 Aarhus C AARHUS Denmark Confirmed View

Add collection

AAUB Anhui Agricultural University, Department of Basic Courses 16 Shushan Road, Hefei, Anhui, 230036 HEFEI People's Republic of China Confirmed View

Add collection

AAUF Anhui Agricultural University, Forest Utilization Faculty HEFEI People's Republic of China Confirmed View

Add collection

ABB Asian Bacterial Bank Samsung Biomedical Research Institute, Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul South Korea Unconfirmed Edit

ABC Arvids Barsevskis Unconfirmed Edit

ABD University of Aberdeen, Plant and Soil Science Department G28, Cruickshank Building. ABERDEEN U.K. Confirmed View

Add collection

ABDAM Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museum ABERDEEN U.K. Confirmed View

Add collection

ABDC Aba Institute for Drug Control BARKAM People's Republic of China Confirmed View

Add collection

ABDF University of Aberdeen, Forestry Department 581 King Street, Aberdeen AB9 2UD, Scotland ABERDEEN U.K. Confirmed View

Add collection

ABDH United Arab Emirates University Abu Dhabi. AL-AIN United Arab Emirates Confirmed View

Add collection

ABDM Marischal College, University of Aberdeen ABERDEEN U.K. Confirmed View

Add collection

ABE Personal collection of T. Abe. Unconfirmed Edit 

As 436 clients before you, let’s work together

The complete list of collection is below. The details for each can be edited or deleted as needed.

Collection Name Code Institution Name Date Status Action

Balsam Mountain Trust Herbarium BMT Non-Institutional Collection 08/03/2009 In Review Edit

Benjamin Victor's Marine Fishes Collection BVictor Non-Institutional Collection 04/05/2011 Confirmed Edit

Collection Galli & Ruf CGR Non-Institutional Collection 02/20/2009 Confirmed Edit

Daniel H. Janzen at University of Pennsylvania DHJanzen Non-Institutional Collection 08/24/2010 Confirmed Edit

Daniel Handfield Lepidoptera research collection DH Non-Institutional Collection 08/22/2011 Confirmed Edit

Gilbert L. Challet GLCC Non-Institutional Collection 08/04/2009 Confirmed Edit

Insects of the Area Conservacion Guanacaste, northwestern Costa Rica SRNP Non-Institutional Collection 02/23/2009 Confirmed Edit

Lepidoptera Collection of Valerio Sbordoni VSRM Non-Institutional Collection 11/23/2010 Confirmed Edit

Personal Research Collection of Dr. Paul Thiaucourt PTNOT Non-Institutional Collection 05/19/2011 Confirmed Edit

Research Collection of Matthew J.W. Cock MJWC Non-Institutional Collection 10/08/2010 Confirmed Edit

Robert C. Dalgleish Personal Collection RCDP Non-Institutional Collection 08/27/2008 Confirmed Edit

Tomislav Curkovic TCCC Non-Institutional Collection 04/23/2008 In Review Edit


Instructions for Users

TopSearching Datafields

You can search for any word or part of a word that might appear in the Non-Institution name. You can also search for any city, state, province, or postal code that might appear in any address field.

TopSorting Columns

Institutional records are sorted by acronym, but you can change the sort order by clicking on Non-Institution Name, Country, or Status.

TopAlphabet Index

ou can reduce the number of institutions shown to only those acronym, name, or country starts with a certain letter. Sort the list by clicking on Acronym, Non-Institution Name, or Country, and then click on a letter in the alphabet row. You can un-select the letter and get the full listing again by clicking on "Clear search" link above the table.

TopStatus Column

The status column indicates records that have been registered by users and confirmed by CBOL