Time Capsule Program for Environmental Specimens (Japan)

National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES), Japan started a pilot ESB in 1979. We renewed our program to "Environmental Specimen Time Capsule Program" and started storing environmental specimens and genetic resources of endangered species funded by the Ministry of the Environment.
The specimens in the pilot phase ESB have been stored mainly at -20°C. In 2004, long-term storage using liquid nitrogen vapor (-150°C) was completed in the Environmental Specimen Time Capsule Building. The Time Capsule program is planning the systematic collection and banking of various kinds of environmental specimens representing the current environmental status in Japan. Temporal changes in environmental pollution over a period of 50-100 years are revealed by determining them in stored samples.
Specimens are to be stored for a long period, and await future use and analysis. For example, several cases are assumed; occurrences of new, unknown environmental issues, perception of new latent pollutants, and newly developed advanced analytical techniques. We are trying not only to prevent samples from contamination and degradation of potential pollutants, but also to preserve the effect induced in the sample organism through exposure to pollutants (biomarkers such as induction of specific genes, proteins and adducts with biomolecules). Cryogenic milling and storage in a liquid nitrogen environment are selected to secure good long-term preservation conditions.