1. Genetics and Genomics
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Science Forum: The critical importance of vouchers in genomics

  1. Janet C Buckner  Is a corresponding author
  2. Robert C Sanders
  3. Brant C Faircloth
  4. Prosanta Chakrabarty  Is a corresponding author
  1. Museum of Natural Science, Louisiana State University, United States
  2. Museum of Natural Science and Department of Biological Sciences, Louisiana State University, United States
  3. Carleton University, Canada
  4. American Museum of Natural History, United States
Feature Article
Cite this article as: eLife 2021;10:e68264 doi: 10.7554/eLife.68264
2 figures and 1 additional file


Percentages of vertebrate genomes with and without a voucher reference.

Of the 1300 representative genome assemblies from vertebrate taxa that were available on GenBank (with sequence coverage greater than 30X) as of January 2020, only 11% referenced a voucher specimen in a published paper or the appropriate NCBI database field(s). The percentages for the major taxonomic groups vary from 3% of assemblies referencing a voucher for mammals to 15% of assemblies referencing a voucher for birds.

Suggested best practices for voucher-enabled genomics.

Best practice starts with obtaining the necessary legal documents (see ‘Permits’), and continues through fieldwork with local researchers (‘Field collection’), photographing specimens and recording collection information (‘Metadata’), depositing specimens (‘Vouchering’), and creating dynamic links between museum collections and genome repositories (‘Link Genomes to Vouchers’).

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