Research facilities

The research resource of the State Herbarium collection has been barcoded, databased and is accessible through Australia's Virtual Herbarium and eFlora SA. There is a number of equipment available that assists in the varied research being undertaken with the State Herbarium's laboratories.

The research equipment available includes:

  • a suite of dissecting and compound microscopes, including a computer-assisted Nikon Image Treatment Digital Compound Microscope and a tabletop Nikon-Jeol Scanning Electron Microscope
  • state-of-the-art taxonomical and molecular biology analytical software
  • CO2-freezing microtome
  • fume hoods
  • chemicals
  • histological kits
  • fan-assisted commercial-sized drying ovens
  • walk-in decontamination freezer.

The scanning electron microscope, a partnership between DEWNR and the University of Adelaide, now enables the State Herbarium to:

  • obtain 3D topographic images of microscopic structures
  • sccess hidden morphological characters not captured by conventional optical microscopy for an unsurpassed ability for fast and more accurate taxonomic identifications. More accurate identifications provide for better biodiversity assessments, better conservation management and more informed decision making
  • better study of the effects of climate changes on terrestrial and marine plant and animal species such as how drought and acidification processes affect South Australian animals, plants and soils. These effects can be detected through the analysis of external and internal microscopic structures
  • identify the plant, animals and mineral resources and products, including those used in the construction of aboriginal artefacts.

Ancient DNA laboratory

A specialised ancient DNA laboratory with positive air-pressure and UV light sterilisation, which belongs to the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA, is also housed in the Plant Biodiversity Centre. This new research initiative between the University of Adelaide, DEWNR, and the Board of the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium aims to study evolution and environmental change through time using preserved genetic records of plants, and of human, animal and sedimentary material.

Key interests include molecular studies of evolutionary processes in population genetics, phylogenetics and phylogeography, molecular clocks, and a variety of uses of temporally distributed DNA sequences. The facilities include freezer rooms, sample preparation and decontamination areas, and specialist still-air working areas for ancient human DNA, vertebrates and sedimentary and microbial DNA studies. The laboratory is directed by Professor Alan Cooper.