Museum Collections and Research

Genomic Analysis

Scientists use many pieces of evidence to determine evolutionary relatedness between species. One of these is using species’ genomes to examine similarity and differences in the genetic code.

Why does Shannon Hackett use genome sequencing in her research? What new discovery was she and her team able to make thanks to genome sequencing? Does Shannon Hackett only use genomics in her work? What other strategies does she use to study birds?

In genomic analysis, DNA Laboratory Technicians extract specimen DNA, amplify these genomes and compare them against existing databases of genomes.

To explore why researchers might use genomic analysis, in the next two activities you will attempt to differentiate between two lichen species using only the naked eye.

Many lichens appear very similar, but once we sequence their genomes we discover a wide variety of algae and fungi species making up these symbiotic organisms. Take a look through these specimens from the Field Museum Lichen collection and see what differences you spot with your naked eye.

Do you think it would be easy to tell the difference between lichen using only your eyes?

What challenges might you have?

A lab technician works in the Field Museum's DNA Discovery Center.