Journal of Biosciences

, Volume 42, Issue 2, pp 321–331 | Cite as

An evaluation of the status of living collections for plant, environmental, and microbial research

  • Kevin McCluskeyEmail author
  • Jill P Parsons
  • Kimberly Quach
  • Clifford S Duke


While living collections are critical for biological research, support for these foundational infrastructure elements is inconsistent, which makes quality control, regulatory compliance, and reproducibility difficult. In recent years, the Ecological Society of America has hosted several National Science Foundation–sponsored workshops to explore and enhance the sustainability of biological research infrastructure. At the same time, the United States Culture Collection Network has brought together managers of living collections to foster collaboration and information exchange within a specific living collections community. To assess the sustainability of collections, a survey was distributed to collection scientists whose responses provide a benchmark for evaluating the resiliency of these collections. Among the key observations were that plant collections have larger staffing requirements and that living microbe collections were the most vulnerable to retirements or other disruptions. Many higher plant and vertebrate collections have institutional support and several have endowments. Other collections depend on competitive grant support in an era of intense competition for these resources. Opportunities for synergy among living collections depend upon complementing the natural strong engagement with the research communities that depend on these collections with enhanced information sharing, communication, and collective action to keep them sustainable for the future. External efforts by funding agencies and publishers could reinforce the advantages of having professional management of research resources across every discipline.


Biodiversity genetics interdisciplinary science microbiology natural resources 



The research coordination network for a community of ex situ microbial germplasm repositories is supported by Grant DBI 1534564 from the US National Science Foundation. The survey, and JPP, KQ, and CSD, were supported by Grant DBI 1247285 from NSF. This is publication number 16-189-J of the Kansas Agricultural Experiment Station. The survey was approved by the Kansas State University Institutional Review Board and was determined to be exempt from further IRB review according to 45 CFR 46.101, B:2:11.

Supplementary material

12038_2017_9685_MOESM1_ESM.docx (14 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 14 kb)


  1. ASN-ATCCSDOW 2010 Cell line misidentification: the beginning of the end. Nat. Rev. Cancer. 10 441–448Google Scholar
  2. Baddar NWAH, Woodcock MR, Khatri S, Kump DK, Voss SR 2015 Sal-site: research resources for the Mexican Axolotl. Salamanders Regen. Res. Methods Protoc. 1290 321–336Google Scholar
  3. Bandrowski A, Brush M, Grethe JS, Haendel MA, Kennedy DN, Hill S, Hof PR, Martone ME, Pols M and Tan SC 2016 The resource identification initiative: a cultural shift in publishing. J. Comp. Neurol. 524 8–22CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Bobinski GS 1969 Carnegie libraries: their history and impact on American public library development. Amer Library AssnGoogle Scholar
  5. Boundy-Mills K 2012 Yeast culture collections of the world: meeting the needs of industrial researchers. J. Ind. Microbiol. Biotechnol. 39 673–680CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Burks C and Tomlinson LJ 1989 Submission of data to GenBank. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 86 408–408CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  7. Campbell L, Betsou F, Garcia D, Giri J, Pitt K, Pugh R, Sexton K, Skubitz A, Somiari S and Astrin J 2012 Best practices for repositories—collection, storage, retrieval and distribution of biological materials for research. Biopreserv. Biobank. 10 79–161CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Collins FS, Tabak LA 2014 NIH plans to enhance reproducibility. Nature 505 612CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  9. Dedeurwaerdere T 2006 The institutional economics of sharing biological information. Int. Soc. Sci. J. 58 351–368CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dedeurwaerdere T, Melindi-Ghidi P and Broggiato A 2016 Global scientific research commons under the Nagoya Protocol: towards a collaborative economy model for the sharing of basic research assets. Environ. Sci. Policy 55 1–10CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  11. Dugan FM Jr., Wiest A and McCluskey K 2011 Public germplasm collections and revolutions in biotechnology. J. Biosci. 36 205–209CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Feldman AM 2015 The Bayh‐Dole Act, A Lion without Claws. Clin. Transl. Sci. 8 3–4CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Furman JL and Stern S 2011 Climbing atop the shoulders of giants: The impact of institutions on cumulative research. Am. Econ. Rev. 101 1933–1963CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Guide I 2009 General requirements for the competence of reference material producers (ISO, Geneva)Google Scholar
  15. Kaiser J 2015 An end to US chimp research. Science 350 1013CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. McCluskey K, et al. 2016 The US Culture Collection Network Lays the Foundation for Progress in Preservation of Valuable Microbial Resources. Phytopathology 106 532–540CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Moore HM 2014 Moving toward biospecimen harmonization with evidence-based practices. Biopreserv. Biobank. 12 79CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  18. Namoff S, Husby CE, Francisco-Ortega J, Noblick LR, Lewis CE and Griffith MP 2010 How well does a botanical garden collection of a rare palm capture the genetic variation in a wild population? Biol. Conserv. 143 1110–1117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. NIAID 2015 Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Biological Research Repository (MID-BRR) in Services DoHaH (ed.) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious DiseasesGoogle Scholar
  20. Nowogrodzki A 2016a Biological specimen troves get a reprieve. Nat. News. doi: 10.1038/nature.2016.19995
  21. Nowogrodzki A 2016b Biological specimen troves threatened by funding pause. Nature 531 561CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Overmann J 2015 Significance and future role of microbial resource centers. Syst. Appl. Microbiol. 38 258–265CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Parsons JP and Duke CS 2013 Strategies for developing and innovating living stocks collections: an ESA workshop report. Bull. Ecol. Soc. Am. 94 118–129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Roche CM, Loros JJ, McCluskey K and Glass NL 2014 Neurospora crassa: Looking back and looking forward at a model microbe. Am. J. Bot. 101 2022–2035CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Schüngel M, Smith D, Bizet C, Stackebrandt E and Consortium M 2014 The role of the European Microbial Resource Research Infrastructure Project. Enliven. Microbe Microbial. Tech. 1 001Google Scholar
  26. Smith D, McCluskey K and Stackebrandt E 2014 Investment into the future of microbial resources: culture collection funding models and BRC business plans for biological resource centres. Springerplus 3 81CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  27. Stern S 2004 Biological Resource Centers. Brookings Institution Press, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
  28. Uhlir PF 2011 Designing the microbial research commons: Proceedings of an International Workshop. National Academies PressGoogle Scholar
  29. Vasilevsky NA, Brush MH, Paddock H, Ponting L, Tripathy SJ, LaRocca GM and Haendel MA 2013 On the reproducibility of science: unique identification of research resources in the biomedical literature. PeerJ. 1 e148CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  30. Vaught J 2016 Biobanking comes of age: the transition to biospecimen science. Annu. Rev. Pharmacol. Toxicol. 56 211–228CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Verkley GJ, Rossman A and Crouch JA 2015 The Role of Herbaria and Culture Collections. Systematics and Evolution (Springer)Google Scholar
  32. Wu L, et al. 2017. World data centre for microorganisms: an information infrastructure to explore and utilize preserved microbial strains worldwide. Nucleic Acids Res. 45 D611–D618CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Yoder AD 2013 The lemur revolution starts now: the genomic coming of age for a non-model organism. Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 66 442–452CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Indian Academy of Sciences 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fungal Genetics Stock Center, Department of Plant PathologyKansas State UniversityManhattanUSA
  2. 2.Office of Science ProgramsEcological Society of AmericaWashingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations