As primary producers of biomass, higher plants and algae are important components of global biodiversity and are fundamental to marine and terrestrial ecosystems. They are also the basis for human well-being, providing food, materials and medicines. Specimens of these organisms are placed in herbaria, where they are commonly referred to as botanical specimens. Herbaria, like other natural history collections, are the foundational resources for taxonomy and the study of biodiversity. A herbarium is a primary data source of dried and labeled plant specimens that is arranged to allow for easy retrieval access and archival storage. A herbarium is like a library, but differs in that the information is stored in a biological form like dried, and annotated plant specimens. Herbaria play a pivotal role because each collected and preserved specimen represents a verifiable record of the presence of a species in a defined place at a specific time.
A sufficiently large number of specimens in herbaria provide a wide geographical range and information about the variability of the nature of organisms, both morphological and molecular. This information can be continuously improved as the number of specimens studied increases. Most importantly, the taxonomic identification of specimens in the herbarium can be verified at any time using modern methods. Herbarium specimens also provide materials for research on variation at the DNA level, genome structure, and gene expression.
Herbariums in the form of dried plants were first created in Europe in the 16th century. The first such herbarium of dried specimens was made in 1544 by the Italian physician and botanist Luca Ghini from Bologna. The oldest herbarium collections in the world that have survived to this day include: the Botanical Garden of the University of Padua, founded in 1545, the Botanical Garden in Bologna, founded in 1568, and the Dutch Botanical Garden in Leiden, founded in 1590. According to the information provided in publication Thomas Borsch et al. (A complete digitization of German herbaria is possible, sensible and should be started now. Research Ideas and Outcomes 6: e50675, 2020) in Europe there are less than 700 larger herbaria with 176 million dried specimens. There are 32 herbaria in Poland, with approximately 5.3 million specimens in their collections obtained mainly from terrestrial ecosystems.
The Macroalgae Herbarium Consortium is a recommendable project of scanned sheets of marine, estuarine and freshwater macroalgae – https://www.macroalgae.org/portal/. The goal of the Macroalgal Digitization Project is to image, georeference and database herbarium sheets of macroalgae specimens stored in 49 herbaria in USA from New England to Florida, to Hawaii and Guam.
The marine plant Herbarium (PERM) was established by PERM phycologists from prof. Adam Latała team’s. The herbarium created in the Laboratory of Marine Plant Ecophysiology (PERM) contains resources collected for over 40 years. The herbarium consists of above 300 specimens of marine macroalgae and vascular plants. The specimens come from various marine ecosystems, but particular emphasis was placed on the Baltic Sea. Due to the fact that our herbarium is digitized (i.e. the transformation of specimen information from a physical to a digital format), its resources can significantly increase the value of the teaching and research infrastructure of the PERM team. Sheet preparation and digitization (Dr. hab. Sylwia Śliwińska-Wilczewska), the establishing of the principles of the website and the introduction of biological specimens (Prof. Adam Latała) and the development of the functional form of the website Herbarium of marine plants PERM (Błażej Zabłotny) were carried out as part of own tasks.
over 40 years
specimens of marine macroalgae
and vascular plants