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How to Deposit Specimens in the USNPC

The U.S. National Parasite Collection (USNPC) provides permanent preservation for type* and voucher specimens of helminths and other parasites of animals for future reference. The collections database is also made available on-line consequently specific data-standards are outlined below for information that should accompany specimens at the time of submission. All donors are notified of the catalogue numbers assigned to the specimens they contribute. Donors are requested to include their full address, phone and fax numbers, and e-mail address.

Scientists are encouraged to deposit their material early enough to receive numbers for inclusion in their manuscripts. It is mandatory that the specimens be received before numbers are assigned to them. All specimens in a type series* must be labeled clearly. Designation of specimens on a slide containing others may be accomplished by drawing a line around the specimen with a diamond pencil on the lower surface of the slide. Ideally, different specimens should be mounted separately. Parasites should be marked for location in histological tissue sections with a diamond pencil or inedible marker.

* See below for description of type specimens.

Required Information:

  • Scientific name of parasite
  • Name of host (genus and species binomial) (age, sex can be included in remarks)
  • Habitat - location in/on host
  • Geographical Locality - geopolitical name, description, including: country, state or province, city; other identifying features such as mountain(s), lake(s), river(s), etc., longitude/latitude coordinates to degrees, minutes
  • Name of Collector
  • Date of Collection
  • Name of Identifier (if different than collector)

Additional data: (1) fixatives; (2) stains; (3) clearing and mounting media; (4) identifier of host; (5) if host specimens are deposited, location of host specimen(s), museum collection numbers (for type specimens, symbiotype, museum collection and number); (6) location of additional parasite specimens in other collections (museum and accession numbers); (7) other parasites present, prevalence or intensity; and (8) information on publication and journal. These data should be indicated clearly in a letter included in the package containing the specimens; a copy should be sent also under separate cover, or by e-mail or FAX. LABELS ON SLIDES OR IN BOTTLES ARE NOT ADEQUATE FOR PROVIDING SPECIMEN DATA.


Additional information is required for the deposit of specimens for taxonomic purposes. Parasitologists proposing new taxa should be familiar with the 4th Edition of The International Code of Zoological Nomenclature and particularly with the section entitled “Types and the Species Group.” Copies of the code are available from the Treasurer, American Association for Zoological Nomenclature, c/o Department of Vertebrate Zoology, National Museum of Natural History, MRC 159, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 20560.

If an author proposes a new species, all the specimens on which it is based, except for ones the author refers to as variants are regarded as the type series. The following names are used in designating specimens in the type series.

Holotype: The single specimen designated as the name-bearing type of a species or subspecies in the original publication, or the single specimen on which a taxon was based when no type was specified.

Paratype: Each specimen in a type series used in the description of a species other than the holotype. Scientists are encouraged to designate and deposit paratypes. These are utilized for study whenever possible in place of a holotype to avoid unnecessary handling and possible damage to holotype.

Allotype: A paratype specimen of the opposite sex from the holotype in parasites in which the sexes are separate and identifiable usually nematodes and acanthocephalans. Allotype designations are not regulated by the code.

Syntype: Each specimen in a type series from which neither a holotype nor a lectotype has been designated.

Lectotype: A syntype, designated as the single name-bearing type specimen after the original publication of a species or subspecies name.

Paralectotype: Each of the original syntypes remaining after the designation of a lectotype.

Neotype: A single specimen designated as the name-bearing type of a species or subspecies taxon for which no holotype, (or lectotype), syntypes, or prior neotype are believed to exist. A neotype should be chosen if possible from any surviving paratypes or paralectotypes. If no paratypes or paralectotypes are available, a specimen from the type host and/or the type locality is preferred.

Hapantotype: One or more preparations of directly related individuals representing differing stages in the life cycle together forming a name-bearing type, generally applied in an extant species of Protozoa.

Phototype: A set of photographs (usually of sporulated oocysts) of a new protozoan taxon. For format for depositing phototypes see Bandoni and Duszynski, 1988.

Another name occasionally used is Hypotype, a described or figured specimen used in a publication to extend or correct the knowledge of a previously defined species.


Specimens must be packaged in strong containers and surrounded by shockproof absorbent material sufficient to withstand severe blows in transit and to absorb fluid in case specimen vials are broken. Screw caps on glass vials should be taped/parafilmed in place to prevent loosening in transit. Individual vials should be placed in separate small plastic bags. Slides must be completely dry and individually wrapped in paper (approximately 3” x 5”) before being placed in a slide box with shock-absorbing material between them. This procedure prevents fragments of one broken slide from hitting and breaking adjacent slides and greatly facilitates the recovery and reconstruction of damaged specimens and slide fragments. Wooden and flexible plastic slide boxes are preferred to inflexible hard plastic boxes. A letter containing the information about the specimens should be included in the package and a copy sent under separate cover. Address specimens to: U.S. National Parasite Collection, USDA, ARS, ANRI, Bldg. 1180, BARC-East, 10300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD 20705-2350.


1. International Code for Zoological Nomenclature 4th Edition.

2. Bandoni, S. M. and D. W. Duszynski, 1988. A plea for improved presentation of type material for Coccidia. Journal of Parasitology 74:519-523.

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Last Modified: 12/30/2009
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