DNA Extraction from Herbarium Specimens

  • Lenka Záveská Drábková
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 1115)


With the expansion of molecular techniques, the historical collections have become widely used. Studying plant DNA using modern molecular techniques such as DNA sequencing plays an important role in understanding evolutionary relationships, identification through DNA barcoding, conservation status, and many other aspects of plant biology. Enormous herbarium collections are an important source of material especially for specimens from areas difficult to access or from taxa that are now extinct. The ability to utilize these specimens greatly enhances the research. However, the process of extracting DNA from herbarium specimens is often fraught with difficulty related to such variables as plant chemistry, drying method of the specimen, and chemical treatment of the specimen. Although many methods have been developed for extraction of DNA from herbarium specimens, the most frequently used are modified CTAB and DNeasy Plant Mini Kit protocols. Nine selected protocols in this chapter have been successfully used for high-quality DNA extraction from different kinds of plant herbarium tissues. These methods differ primarily with respect to their requirements for input material (from algae to vascular plants), type of the plant tissue (leaves with incrustations, sclerenchyma strands, mucilaginous tissues, needles, seeds), and further possible applications (PCR-based methods or microsatellites, AFLP).

Key words

DNA extraction Herbarium specimens Difficult plant tissues PCR Microsatellites AFLP 



The study was supported by GAČR 206/07/P147, GAČR P506/11/0774, and Institutional Research Plan AV0Z60050516.


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Copyright information

© Springer New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lenka Záveská Drábková
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of TaxonomyInstitute of Botany, Academy of Sciences of the Czech RepublicPruhoniceCzech Republic

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