Why explore the DNA in museum specimens?

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About the research

Gontran Sonet is kind of a CSI-specialist at the Royal Institute of Natural Sciences. He too analyzes the DNA of deceased individuals. But instead of investigating human bodies for forensic purposes, Gontran studies the DNA of insects and other museum specimens. In this way he can, for example, determine if two bees that look very similar indeed belong to the same species. The purpose: gain better understanding of our fascinating planet and its nature. 

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Thanks to Alain Pauly for the pictures of the bees and the box of insects.

Gontran Sonet
KBIN

Gontran Sonet works as a scientific assistant at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences since 2007. In the unit “JEMU” of the department “Taxonomy and Phylogeny”, he uses DNA markers to identify animal species and infer their evolutionary relationships. He was born in Frameries, Belgium, in 1979. He obtained a master’s degree in molecular biology and a complementary master’s degree in environmental management at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB).