Museum Collections and Research
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.
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?