Many discoveries in the life sciences have been made using material from living stock collections. These collections provide a uniform and stable supply of living organisms and related materials that enhance the reproducibility of research and minimize the need for repetitive calibration. While collections differ in many ways, they all require expertise in maintaining living organisms and good logistical systems for keeping track of stocks and fulfilling requests for specimens. Here, we review some of the contributions made by living stock collections to research across all branches of the tree of life, and outline the challenges they face.


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