The resurrection initiative: Storing ancestral genotypes to capture evolution in action

Steven J. Franks, John C. Avise, William E. Bradshaw, Jeffrey K. Conner, Julie R. Etterson, Susan J. Mazer, Ruth G. Shaw, Arthur E. Weis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


In rare circumstances, scientists have been able to revive dormant propagules from ancestral populations and rear them with their descendants to make inferences about evolutionary responses to environmental change. Although this is a powerful approach to directly assess microevolution, it has previously depended entirely upon fortuitous conditions to preserve ancestral material. We propose a coordinated effort to collect, preserve, and archive genetic materials today for future studies of evolutionary change - a "resurrection paradigm." The availability of ancestral material that is systematically collected and intentionally stored using best practices will greatly expand our ability to illuminate microevolutionary patterns and processes and to predict ongoing responses of species to global change. In the workshop "Project Baseline," evolutionary biologists and seed storage experts met to discuss establishing a coordinated effort to implement the resurrection paradigm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)870-873
Number of pages4
Issue number9
StatePublished - Oct 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank all of the participants of the Project Baseline workshop: Tia-Lynn Ashman, Kathleen Donohue, Christopher Eckert, Brandon Gaut, Carol Goodwillie, Richard Gomul - keiwicz, Andrew Hendry, Jennifer Ison, Gary Krupnick, Jennifer Lau, John Maron, John McGraw, Arlee Montalvo, Hugh Pritchard, David Reznick, Christopher Richards, Pati Vitt, Bruce Walsh, and Christina Walters. Christina Holzapfel provided valuable comments. Sheina Sim prepared figure 1. This research was supported by National Science Foundation (NSF) grants DEB-0412573 and IOB-0445710 to W. E. B.; NSF grants DEB 0108354 and DBI-0638591 to J. K. C.; NSF grant DEB 064-1285 to J. R. E.; and NSF grants DEB-0345030, DEB-0440595, and DEB-0636812 to A. E. W.


  • Climate change
  • Microevolution
  • Project baseline
  • Resurrection ecology
  • Seed banks


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