Museums are biobanks: unlocking the genetic potential of the three billion specimens in the world's biological collections.
The Global Genome Biodiversity Network (GGBN) was formed in 2011 with the principal aim of making high-quality well-documented and vouchered collections that store DNA or tissue samples of biodiversity, discoverable for research through a networked community of biodiversity repositories. This is achieved through the GGBN Data Portal (http://data.ggbn.org), which links globally distributed databases and bridges the gap between biodiversity repositories, sequence databases and research results. Advances in DNA extraction techniques combined with next-generation sequencing technologies provide new tools for genome sequencing. Many ambitious genome sequencing projects with the potential to revolutionize biodiversity research consider access to adequate samples to be a major bottleneck in their workflow. This is linked not only to accelerating biodiversity loss and demands to improve conservation efforts but also to a lack of standardized methods for providing access to genomic samples. Biodiversity biobank-holding institutions urgently need to set a standard of collaboration towards excellence in collections stewardship, information access and sharing and responsible and ethical use of such collections. GGBN meets these needs by enabling and supporting accessibility and the efficient coordinated expansion of biodiversity biobanks worldwide.