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How to ship plant tissue for RNA extraction? - (Sep/21/2013 )

Dear experienced molecular community,


I would like to ship a plant fruit during the winter months with the intention of extracting RNA from the tissue.  The fruit will be growing on a tree, and will be severed from the branches immediately before shipping.


I'm turning to you for advice on how to ship this tissue without damaging the RNA.  Should I:

A) let it freeze in the mail and not worry about it


B) Insulate the fruit from the cold during shipping, so that it maintains non-freezing temperatures




C) flash-freeze the fruit and store it on dry ice to preserve the RNA during transport (would this option be a problem if, after shipping, I want to chop up the fruit, weigh, and re-freeze it?)

D) other?

This is essentially a question about RNA stability in in-tact plant tissues.  Please help!




I recommend option C.  Flash freezing and shipping on dry ice is the gold standard for preserving RNA.  You can keep the fruit frozen while chopping by using a hammer and chisel inside a mortar.  Keep the mortar cold using liquid nitrogen, or alternatively, you can embed the mortar inside dry ice to keep it cold.  In both cases, pre-chill the mortar in the -80 freezer.


Thanks for the advice.  If freezing is not an option (and it might not be), do you think a few days of transport in the mail would allow time for RNA degredation with such fresh tissue?

In other words, the fruit tissue will remain "alive" for the few days in the mail, won't it?