Various laboratories across the world are migrating biological samples to room temperature sample storage, or RTSS. Some labs with the University of Colorado (CU) system have piloted RTSS, including the Fierer Lab at CU Boulder, and the Robinson Lab at the CU Denver Anschutz Medical Campus. RTSS is potentially a more secure way of storing samples as it eliminates the need for high energy consuming ULT freezers which run the risk of failing. Furthermore, a migration to RTSS has the potential to save universities and institutions thousands of dollars in energy savings as freezers come offline or aren’t replaced when they fail.

Resources discussing Room Temperature Sample Storage:

  • Laboratories for the 21st Century Technical Bulletin “Room Temperature Storage of Biological Samples” by A. Doyle et. al. March 2011
    “Room temperature sample storage (RTSS) enables safe storage of biological material at room temperature. The technology prevents the degradation of biological materials at room temperature, eliminating the need for cold storage and cold shipping. Currently, biomolecules such as DNA, RNA and bacteria can be stabilized at ambient temperatures providing a cost-effective alternative to cold storage and shipping of samples.”

  • ISBER News “A Better Mousetrap: Desiccated Versus Frozen RNA” by Steven Robinson at the University of Colorado, Volume 13, Number 4 October 2013.
    “The preliminary results from this pilot study indicate that desiccated versus frozen RNA samples are comparable after one year of storage. Additionally, our recent RNA sequencing data indicates that long-term, dry-state storage of RNA is highly suitable for whole transcriptome next generation sequencing – next generation sequencing being the future of personalized medicine and thus biobanking.”

  • Fabre et. al. 2013. An efficient method for long-term room temperature storage of RNA. European Journal of Human Genetics (2014) 22, 379–385; doi:10.1038/ejhg.2013.145; published online 17 July 2013
    “Here we showed that (1) efficient RNA storage required full protection from the atmosphere; (2) the room temperature degradation rates of a set of RNA species (mRNAs as well as rRNAs) were proportional to their lengths, suggesting that in the solid state most RNA molecules degraded independently of their sequence; and (3) our procedure made the RNA degradation rate slow enough to allow reliable gene expression studies after long-term storage. Most importantly, we gave a quantitative estimation of the RNA lifetime when RNA was stored protected from the atmosphere.”

  • Room Temperature Sample Storage Stanford University Pilot prepared by Gregory D. Jensen in May 2009.
    “The technology is based on extremophile biology originally identified by Dr. John Crowe, Professor Emeritus UC Davis. Using extremophile biology, organisms such as tardigrades and brine shrimp are able to protect their DNA, RNA, proteins, membranes and cellular systems for long‐term survival in a dried state or anhydrobiosis (life without water) and later revive by simple rehydration. This technology mimics the natural molecular mechanisms used by these organisms. The technology works by forming a thermo‐stable barrier during the drying process to protect samples from degradation during storage at room temperature.”

  • Freezer Retirement Program: Out with the cold, in with the new from the Stanford News Service (June 2, 2010) mentions how the maize genetics lab of Virginia Walbot converted some of their DNA and RNA samples to RTSS.

  • Assessing a novel room temperature DNA storage medium for forensic biological samples. Lee SB, Clabaugh KC, Silva B, Odigie KO, Coble MD, Loreille O, Scheible M, Fourney RM, Stevens J, Carmody GR, Parsons TJ, Pozder A, Eisenberg AJ, Budowle B, Ahmad T, Miller RW, Crouse CA. Forensic Sci Int Genet. 2012 Jan;6(1):31-40. doi: 10.1016/j.fsigen.2011.01.008. Epub 2011 Feb 15. PMID:21324769
    “Results indicate no substantial differences between the quality of samples stored frozen in liquid and those samples maintained dry at ambient temperatures protected in SampleMatrix™ (SM; Biomatrica, Inc., San Diego, CA). For long-term storage and the storage of low concentration samples, SampleMatrix™ provided a significant advantage over freezer storage through higher DNA recovery. No detectable inhibition of amplification was observed at the recommended SampleMatrix™ concentration and complete profiles were obtained from genomic DNA samples even in the presence of higher than recommended concentrations of the SampleMatrix™ storage medium.”

Financial incentives from Facilities Management may be available to University of Colorado Boulder labs interested in piloting Room Temperature Sample Storage, so contact CU Green Labs to learn more!