Problems for Preserving Ancient Biomolecules Listed

Problems for Preserving Ancient Biomolecules Listed

Researchers from University of Oklahoma have listed down the main challenges of curating ancient biomolecules and working toward the development and dissemination of best practices.

Ancient biomolecules are preserved in museums, which needs great care in handling and dissemination of the compounds. A team of researchers led by Courtney Hofman and Rita Austin, in collaboration with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, have come together to draw the main challenges that occur while curating the ancient biomolecules. The report has been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in January 2019, online issue.

Courtney Hofman, assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology, OU College of Arts and Sciences, and co-director of the Laboratories for Molecular Anthropology and Microbiome Research, said: “Ancient biomolecules research has been transformed by new methods, but more dialogue is needed between researchers and museum collections, as historical curation practices can influence biomolecular preservation in unexpected ways. Biomolecular techniques offer new avenues to understand the past, and curating for biomolecules can increase their research applicability and continuing relevance.”

Museums have an astounding challenge for balancing the scientific interests, descendant concerns and the need to preserve collections for future generations. Biomolecular research has increased the samplings of creatures, which needs to be preserved in museums.

Rita Oustin, graduate student at University of Oklahoma, says, “As centralized places housing biomolecules, disseminating knowledge to the public and connecting stakeholders (including descendant communities), the voice and role of museums is imperative for establishing best practices and standards for molecular research on collections to ensure ethical scientific investigations of museum materials, and support sustainable collaborations.”