At the heart of the Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) is the CryoBioBank®, known scientifically as a genome resource bank. CREW's CryoBioBank® contains thousands of samples representing hundreds of animal and plant species all stored in tanks of liquid nitrogen at -196° C. Plant samples include seeds, spores, tiny shoot tips and embryos, whereas animal samples include sperm, oocytes (unfertilized eggs) and embryos.
Why is the CryoBioBank® so important?
It provides insurance against the loss of the world’s current genetic diversity.
It serves as an alternative to transporting live animals and plants between zoos, gardens and countries.
It offers a means of rescuing and storing genes and later producing offspring from animals and plants that did not reproduce naturally in their lifetime.
Freezing plant and animal tissues greatly extends the genetic lifespan of any individual plant or animal.
Space in zoos and botanical gardens is inadequate to house the numbers of animals and plants needed to ensure a high level of genetic diversity for the next century.
It provides material for future studies.
Although the concept of CREW's CryoBioBank® sounds simple, in fact, it is rather complex and challenging for scientists. Protocols for cryopreserving sperm or seeds from one species may fail completely in other species, even those that are closely related. At CREW, scientists are dedicated to developing successful tissue and gamete cryopreservation methods for a multitude of endangered species. It is an important part of CREW’s mission – Saving Species with Science®.