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Joint Research Activities

SYNTHESYS 3 (2013-2017)

The JRA will improve access to data stored digitally within natural history collections by developing mechanisms that enable institutions to enrich digital media with metadata to increase their usability to users.

access_lead_image_widerJRA: Physical to Digital

Moving from physical to digital collections; extracting data from digitised NH specimens

SYNTHESYS 2 (2009 – 2013)

The SYNTHESYS2 JRAs assisted in meeting researcher demands for usable DNA from museum specimens by enhancing and improving extraction technology and protocols. It developed non-invasive tools for estimating the presence of ancient DNA and optimal extraction protocols in both ancient and recent specimens, through the following activities:

NHM ViennaJRA 1

PrediCtoR: A novel decision-making software tool will be developed to help collections managers and users to quantify the risks associated with destructive analysis of specimens.


Screening: Development of a new screening protocol for non- or minimally-destructive analyses to complement PrediCtoR, enabling users to estimate the ancient DNA preservation status of rare or unique bone specimens.


MORDOR: (Methods for Optimal Recovery of DNA from Osteological Remains) Development of a system for ancient DNA extraction of very small samples from museum bone specimens.


Optimised DNA extraction techniques from botanical specimens: Development of protocols to overcome the masking effects of alcohol preservation, secondary compounds and the presence of cell walls in DNA extraction from plant and fungal collections, with a view to scale up eventually by automation.


Development of methods for DNA isolation from invertebrates with muco-polysaccharide-rich tissue: Includes replacing time-consuming single sample extractions with a high throughput DNA isolation procedure and improving yield from old samples.

If you would like more information about the JRAs, please click on the links or email: