Rights: The University of Waikato Published 14 April 2009 Download

Dr Peter Buchanan, of Landcare Research, introduces the three national collections held at Landcare Research’s Auckland site. The collection of invertebrates contains 6.5 million specimens of both native and introduced species of insects and related groups, and many thousands of slides of specimens. The fungal herbarium holds 80,000 dried fungal specimens, while the living collection of fungi and bacteria contains about 12,500 live cultures stored at very low temperatures. Scientists use these as reference samples for their research.


Landcare Research in Auckland, we've got three large national collections. We've got the collection of invertebrates, which is the insects and related groups of animals, and within that collection, we have about a million specimens that are pinned. In addition to that, they've got about 5 and a half million other specimens, and they are in ethanol, so all together about 6 and half million specimens. As well as that, we have got the New Zealand collection of fungi, and these fungal specimens are dried specimens in paper packets. As well as that, there is a third collection of living fungi and bacteria, and we must keep them in that state for decades, possibly even hundreds of years. And we do that by freezing them at very, very low temperatures, and when we want to revive them and get them growing again, we simply warm them up. That living collection contains about twelve thousand different strains of species of fungi and bacteria. Living samples of both fungi and bacteria are really important for research, and they are really important for things like trade and biosecurity. We had a recent example where we were sending New Zealand products to Australia. They found the record of a particular disease on this fruit product. What we were able to do is go back to the original living material on which that record was based and bring it out of its frozen state and grow it and identify, in fact, that that record was incorrect, and it was only by actually looking at the material – the actual living culture – that we could show to Australia that we don't have that species here.

Landcare Research New Zealand Limited