Leibniz Research Alliance on biodiversity

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Biological collections

Scientific collections are an essential infrastructure for biodiversity Research.


Research museum collections

Object- and collection-based research allows for the taxonomic-systematic exploration of biodiversity and makes it possible to answer many research questions that deal with the phylogeny, evolution, ecology, distribution, and temporal-spatial dynamics of life.

Biological collections are scientific collections of fauna and flora groups that can be preserved and archived in various ways.

The three LVB research museums (SGN, MfN, ZFMK) alone house more than 70 million biological objects, i.e. fossil and more recent items. The more recent objects, which are often centuries old, are preserved and archived in special wet and dry collections. The curators of these museums, whose occupation is a profession in its own right and is vastly different to the role played by curators of more standard museums, are responsible for proper scientific support and documentation. more

Microbiological collections

The DSMZ is one of the largest bioresource centers worldwide. The collection is unique in its diversity and currently comprises over 58,000 bioresources, including more than 30,000 different bacterial and fungal strains representing >80% of all officially recognized bacteria, 750 human and animal cell lines, 1,600 plant viruses and antisera, and 13,000 different types of genomic bacteria DNA. more

Collections of cultivated plants

With a total stock of 151,002 samples from 3,212 species and 776 genera, the IPK gene bank of cultivated plants is one of the world’s largest facilities of its kind. more

Other collections

Together with other partners, the ZFMK is responsible for building a molecular genetic collection as part of the GBOL project. The aim is to capture DNA “barcodes” (genetic fingerprints) for most wild species occurring in Germany and make them available to the public in the “DNA Barcode Library of Life”.

The Senckenberg Research Station in Weimar has what is probably the most diverse quaternary paleontology collection in Europe as well as non-fossilized recent paleobotanical collections from Arctic permafrost sequences. 

The Senckenberg German Entomological Institute in Mücheberg (SDEI) in Brandenburg was founded in 1886 as a “National Museum” with an emphasis on systematics and taxonomy and now houses about 3 million specimens of 250,000 species. Finally, the institutes of the partners within the alliance are also home to numerous small collections by individual researchers.

The IZW maintains five scientific collections of international importance, which form an essential resource for comparative studies and support the various services offered by the Institute as a reference center for wildlife biology and veterinary medicine. The collections of the IZW include a pathological reference collection of zoo animals and wild animals, a morphological collection, archives of ultrasound and computed tomography images and videos, and a DNA tissue bank known as the ‘Arche’ (‘Ark’).