Specimen assembling protocols
DNA barcodes are collected and associated with individual specimens. Thus the specimens that are used for DNA barcoding need to be preserved individually, each with a unique sample ID. In contrast to all other DNA depository databases, the Barcode of Life Data System (BOLD, http://www.barcodinglife.org) holds detailed information for all specimens that are used for barcoding, such as collection date, locality, taxonomy, sex, life stage, coordinates, elevation, specimen image, etc. All information is associated with the original voucher specimen via its unique sample ID. Additionally, DNA sequence and the original trace files (the raw electropherograms from which the DNA sequences were read) are linked to the specimen after a barcode is generated.
Ant specimens are routinely assembled into compact containers, such as the 96-well microplate. This medium is cheap and compact and allows submitting the minimum amount of tissue required for one DNA extraction (ca. 2 mm in dimension or 5 mg), thereby avoiding the necessity to manage residual tissue. It also allows the samples to enter directly the lab DNA extraction pipeline, bypassing the intermediate subsampling stage. Along with the microplate, two Excel spreadsheets are provided so collaborators can record the position of each specimen within the microplate and relevant specimen metadata (collection information, taxonomy, etc.).
Specimen contributors are encouraged to submit specimen images to BOLD. Each specimen entry may be associated with multiple photographs taken from various aspects of the specimen. Alternatively, specimens can be submitted for imaging to BIO.