New low-temperature apparatus improves the reliability of storage of herbarium specimens at the Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences

On 2nd August 2021, the low-temperature camera in the Herbarium of the Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research, BAS was officially put into operation, thanks to financial support from the National Roadmap for Scientific Infrastructures. The herbarium contains about 200,000 specimens and is the richest and most representative scientific collection of the flora of Bulgaria and Southeastern Europe. It is registered in the international information system for the most important herbarium collections ‘Index Herbariorum’ with the acronym SOM. Protecting the collection from pests - different types of insects, mainly beetles, is among the priorities of scientists and curators of the scientific collection. With the new chamber, which maintains a temperature of -20°С and has a capacity of 20 m3, it becomes possible to process all herbarium specimens for two weeks each year in order to destroy pests and their eggs. The intensification of the prevention scheme through periodic freezing of herbarium specimens significantly increases the reliability of storage of all specimens, especialy those of high scientific importance. Prof. Svetlana Bancheva talks about the Herbarium and the expectations of the researchers in use of the new camera:

The herbarium has a history of over 100 years. The oldest specimens in the collection are from 1895 and were deposited by the first researchers of the Bulgarian flora like J. Velenovski, V. Stribrni, A. Drenovski, B. Davidov, B. Ahtarov, I. Mrkvichka, I. Neychev, I. Urumov. The most valuable collection is the "Type collection", including over 400 type specimens - individuals, on the basis of which were described species or subspecies for the first time in science. A digital catalog of the type collection is available here: The herbarium also stores the materials on the basis of which the multi-volume capital edition "Flora of the Republic of Bulgaria" is prepared, of which 11 volumes have been published so far.

The Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research and the National Museum of Natural History, Sofia maintain collections of biodiversity samples of high scientific and educational significance. These collections have been gathered over the last 130 years (after 1889). The two institutes of BAS are the main research centers in Bulgaria, which conduct research based on scientific collections, and also provide the state and society with expertise in the field of biodiversity.