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Historically, classifications of arboviruses were based on serological techniques. Hence, collections of arbovirus isolates have been central to this process by providing the antigenic reagents for these methods. However, with increasing concern about biosafety and security, the introduction of molecular biology techniques has led to greater emphasis on the storage of nucleic acid sequence data over the maintenance of archival material. In this commentary, we provide examples of where archival collections provide an important source of genetic material to assist in confirming the authenticity of reference strains and vaccine stocks, to clarify taxonomic relationships particularly when isolates of the same virus species have been collected across a wide expanse of time and space, for future phenotypic analysis, to determine the historical diversity of strains, and to understand the mechanisms leading to changes in genome structure and virus evolution.
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