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.
National Institute for Environmental Studies
Environmental Specimen Time Capsule Building, 16-2 Onogawa, Tsukuba 305-8506 JAPAN
Sample collection in the Time Capsule program: Various environmental specimens (fishes, shellfishes, marine sediments, airborne particulate matter and human breast milk) have been collected at sites all over Japan. Bivalve specimens are to be annually collected at site having large populations (Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka and Fukuoka) and also in so called background areas. Bivalve sampling in to be carried out at sites located along coastal areas all over Japan at five or ten year intervals. Trawling has been seasonally conducted at 20 stations in Tokyo Bay. The number of individuals and the weight of each species have been recorded for analysis of population dynamics and changes in the benthic communities. Stingray liver samples were selected for long-term specimen banking. Particulate matter collected on filter and human breast milk samples are to be stored in a cold room (-60°C) and in deep freezers (-80°C), respectively. Sample information for each site is tabulated separately. In order to preserve environmental samples for more than 50 years, we need to minimize the deterioration of sample quality and eliminate contamination as low as possible in the processes. All processes should be conducted at low temperature and in clean or controlled environment. Samples once frozen are never thawed again, and are processed into a fine powder with cryogenic milling.