1.3. Sample transport

Sample transport from the collection site to the laboratory is the most critical step in sample management, since this is where the integrity of the sample is most easily compromised (Chen et al., 2007). Sample integrity can be preserved to different degrees with the following methods, given in order of effectiveness. The gold standard for sample collection and transport is to freeze on-site, but this is not always possible. All alternatives are basically aimed at getting the samples as quickly and conveniently as possible into a freezer, with minimum degradation. The most useful tool for transporting frozen material is a liquid nitrogen-based ‘dry shipper’, which is specifically developed and approved for international shipment of biological samples at ultra-low temperatures (-150oC). The best can hold these temperatures for more than one week. Other options, for more local transport, are (dry) ice-boxes and portable/car freezers. Courier and mail services are less reliable, both with respect to the maintenance of temperature and the duration of transport.