- Associated Press - Thursday, July 9, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) - Scientists at the Smithsonian Institution are launching a new initiative with the U.S. Botanic Garden and National Arboretum to capture the genomic diversity of the world’s living plants.

The National Museum of Natural History said Wednesday that the initiative will be part of the museum’s Global Genome Initiative. The goal is to capture samples representing half the world’s plants in less than two years.

In order to accelerate the collecting of plant specimens, scientists plan to gather initial samples from gardens in the Washington area. Beginning this week, field teams from the museum’s botany department will begin sampling plants from the U.S. Botanic Garden, the Smithsonian Gardens and the U.S. National Arboretum.

The plant tissues will be preserved in cryogenic vials and stored in liquid nitrogen at the Smithsonian’s biorepository.

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