It has been estimated that dozens of species of plants and animals are currently experiencing extinction every day . Ecosystems are essential for the biological stability of the planet and are also great economic resources in the form of biotechnological applications. The Frozen Ark initiative is a biobank that is supporting the conservation of the species record by collecting and cataloguing the DNA, and if possible the cells or gametes, of endangered animals before they go extinct . This storage will allow continued studies which may reveal novel and valuable biotechnological applications and may allow the revival of a species at a later date which could be essential to maintaining the planet in a stable condition, however without storage many of these species will be lost without trace with unknown consequences.
The Frozen Ark Project is a registered charity (No. 1118044) and a Company Limited by Guarantee in England and Wales (No. 5932945) based at the University of Nottingham with three aims, research, education and future proofing. The project is researching new techniques for storing and reviving cells from the wide range of species which they store. Included in their educational aims is to facilitate the development of best practice for cryopreservation, and to lobby governments on the need for a global effort in cryopreservation. The project aims to establish a comprehensive database of species and biobanked materials. It is a form of future proofing as the potential contributions of these species to biotechnology and medicine are unknown and in many cases their contribution to the biostability of the planetary ecosystem is also unknown and could be crucial.
The Frozen Ark Project is a not for profit independent charity, that consists of a growing group of 22 Consortium Members, with 5 in the UK, 2 in the US, and others in in Germany, Australia, New Zealand, India, South Africa, Norway and Ireland. Many other countries are in the pipeline. Visit the project’s website to find out more (see Sources) .
- Chivian, E. and A. Bernstein (eds.) Sustaining life: How human health depends on biodiversity. Center for Health and the Global Environment. Oxford University Press, New York.