Frequently Asked Questions

Submitting samples and/or data to CryoArks

Samples and Storage​

Frozen tissues, blood and DNAs are the main sample types. CryoArks will also accept other sample types e.g. mixed environmental samples, DNA storage cards, etc., and can advise on suitable storage facilities for the storage of animal cell lines and gametes. Whole voucher specimens are valuable too and may also be submitted. Data includes the sample information, owner details and restrictions on use (e.g. Access and Benefit Sharing requirements).

To donate a sample to CryoArks, ideally a minimum of 100 µL aqueous gDNA, 200 µL blood and/or 1 cm3 tissue should be available, but we understand the volume will depend on the size of the animal or what is left after the veterinary checks have been completed (for samples collected from live animals). To submit data only to CryoArks we recommend listing all samples that you wish to make available to the wider research community on the CryoArks database.

Any number of samples or data can be submitted but ideally multiple samples should be available, including different body tissues (e.g. blood, heart, muscle, liver, etc.). Collections may also include population genetics surveys, some of which include samples taken from many hundreds of individuals of a single species. We recognise the value of these sample/data combinations and are happy to discuss biobanking options with you.

Tissue samples should be stored frozen or in a small amount of >95% Analar Ethanol. Aqueous DNAs in sterile distilled water, TE buffer or freeze dried (please specify). Blood should be stored in EDTA not heparin. Other storage media may also be welcome depending on sample type and would be considered on a case-by-case basis.

We would like to know if you have whole bodies that are specimen “vouchers” linked to the tissue/DNA subsamples in your collection. Alternatively, you can donate whole bodies to a CryoArks museum partner (NMS or NHM) where they will be accessioned into the museum’s collection and a sample will be taken for the biobank.

You will need to have access to a -20°C, -40°C, -80°C or -196°C (Liquid Nitrogen) storage facility. The type of storage required will depend on the sample types you hold. The facility should be one that is monitored daily to ensure it remains at the correct temperature; ideally in real-time with a 24/7 alarm system to alert staff when there is a freezer failure.

Samples should have been transferred to frozen storage as soon as possible after they were collected. Fresh samples are preferred but we understand the value of some older collections and are happy to discuss them. Those with an unknown storage history can also be submitted if the quality of the genetic content can be demonstrated.

There are guidance documents available our resources page that will help you to organise your samples and data. Within the UK, the CryoArks biobank initiative may also be able to arrange for someone to come and help you sort through your existing sample collection. For more information, contact us at

Where possible, the mandatory fields on the CryoArks Data Template should be made available. We understand that some legacy collections may not have all of the required data and we are happy to discuss this on a case-by-case basis.

Sample and Data Ownership

Yes of course! Terms and conditions for the submission of data only will be agreed in advance using the CryoArks Data Transfer Agreement (DTA).

In many cases yes, after some provenance checks agreed on the DTA (not knowingly sourced unethically, etc.) and with all gaps in provenance and source origin recorded for transparency.

No. You should contact the owner of the samples to obtain consent for biobanking before submitting the data or donating the samples.

No. If you are submitting data to the CryoArks database you do not have to give up sample/data ownership. If you decide to donate your samples to CryoArks, you transfer ownership to a CryoArks partner. If you would like a CryoArks partner to store your samples without transferring ownership, charges may be applied to hold the samples in the future.

Samples that are donated to a CryoArks partner will be owned by that institution and will be managed according to CryoArks standards and the institutions management policies and procedures.

Yes. The data can be submitted first with a Data Transfer Agreement (DTA), then samples can be transferred at a later date under a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) if you wish to donate them to a CryoArks partner.

Sample Access and Use

Applications for sample use will be reviewed by the CryoArks Sample Acquisitions and Loans Committee. If you retain the right to have the final permission on usage, the Committee will make a recommendation to you based on the application form.

Samples that are donated to a CryoArks partner can be accessed by filling a sample request form and submit it to If there is enough quantity, you can also donate part of the sample and retain the remainder for your own use.

If the request violates the principles you set out on the Data Transfer Agreement (DTA) when submitting the sample data, then yes.

Yes. On receipt of a formal written request, CryoArks will delete your data from the database and inform you when this has been done.

Details of the costs involved in preparing and shipping samples will be agreed between the supplying institution and the loanee. Where samples are held by a CryoArks partner, costs may be covered by the supplying institution however, where large numbers of samples and/or specific shipment terms are requested, the sample recipient will be expected to cover all associated costs. These details should be agreed and outlined in the accompanying institutional loan agreement.

The Data Transfer Agreement (DTA) will outline the terms under which your data can be made available on the publicly accessible CryoArks database. This means that any data you chose to make available will be visible by anyone using the database. Data embargo periods can be set up and lifted on agreed dates as requested by the data owner.

CryoArks will request information about any submission of data to public databases, publications, grant applications, and biobank citations resulting from the use of your sample data and/or samples. This information will be referenced on the CryoArks database. Further communications about sample data use can be agreed between the supplying institution and the sample loanee on the associated institutional loan agreement (a template of this is available in the data only guidance pack).


CryoArks partners and member institutions (those submitting samples data only to the CryoArks database) are, in so far as possible, expected to follow ISBER and GGBN best practice guidelines for the management of biological sample collections. As a minimum, we advise that institutions have their own Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) and Loan Agreement in place to document samples coming in to and going out of their collection. CryoArks members are also required to ensure that their institution is aware of and implements biological resource handling in accordance with the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefits sharing.

Learning Resources

The resources page on the CryoArks website has information and guidelines relating to sample collection and management.

CryoArks is also developing a collection of bite sized training videos that will be soon available on our YouTube channel.

If you would like to discuss further sharing of the information available via our platforms, please get in touch by emailing us at to discuss usage.

For further information about general best practice guidelines, visit the ISBER and GGBN websites.

To learn more about biobanking samples from zoo and aquaria animals, visit the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) Biobank website. Within the UK, EAZA are a collaborating partner of the CryoArks Biobank Initiative.