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Public Service Collections and Biological Resource Centers of Microorganisms

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The Prokaryotes


From its very beginning in the second half of the nineteenth century, microbiology as a scientific discipline recognized the need to preserve microbial resources for scientific studies and as reference material by the establishment of research collections. To better serve the scientific public with the increasing number of strains of medical importance and physiological novelty, collections were established with the specific remit to support the research and user communities, the public service collections. A few of these early collections that continued to increase their holdings over the years and gained international recognition still exist today (e.g., ATCC, USA, CBS, the Netherlands; CIP, France (see Abbreviations). The number of research collections that were created during the past 140 years is unknown as is the total number of those collections that disappeared because of insecure funding and little recognition of their scientific importance. This chapter will highlight the importance of public service collections as the guardians of valuable microbial resources and as one of the cornerstones of research. It will explain the need for collections to improve all aspects of their mandate, namely, accessioning, long-term preservation and provision of microbial strains and their derivatives in order to meet the demands of their users in the era of the knowledge-based bio-economy.

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The Asian Consortium for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Microbial Resources (, a network of Asian culture collections and BRCs (see Box 11.5).


American Type Culture Collection; Manassas; VA, USA.


Biotech culture collection, Bangkok, Thailand.


Belgian Co-Ordinated Collections of Micro-Organisms, Laboratorium voor Microbiologie, University Gent, Belgium.


Brazilian Cyanobacteria Collection, University Sao Paulo, Brazil.


In the context of this chapter defined as a microbial Biological Resource Center (sensu OECD), a CC running under a defined quality management system which yet needs to be agreed upon by the stakeholders.


CAB International, Egham, UK


Common Access to Biological Resources and Information (, a EU-funded network of eight European Collections (1996–1999), (


Convention on Biological Diversity (, a global agreement addressing all aspects of biological diversity: genetic resources, species, and ecosystems. Their protection, sustainable use and access to including benefit sharing of the advantages arising from their use.


Centraalbureau voor Schimmelcultures, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


In the context of this chapter defined as a microbial Culture Collection, a general term of a facility accessioning and maintaining microbial resources (prokaryotes, fungi, yeast), DNA, plasmids, phages, and material derived therefrom. Public Culture Collections provide this material to users. For a comprehensive list of abbreviations see WDCM and


Culture Collection of Algae and Protozoa, Scottish Marine Institute, Oban, Argyll, UK.


Moroccan Coordinated Collections of Micro-organisms, Morocco.


Culture Collection of Marine Phytoplankton, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, West Boothbay Harbor, Maine USA.


Chinese Center for Type Cultures Collections, Wuhan University, Wuhan, Hubei, China.


Culture Collection of the University of Göteborg, Institute of Clinical Bacteriology, Immunology, and Virology, Göteborg, Sweden.


Colección Española de Cultivos Tipo, Valencia, Spain.


China General Microbiological Culture Collection Center, Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, PR China.


Collection of the Institut Pasteur, Paris, France


Canadian Phycological Culture Center (formerly known as UTCC), University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada.


Deutsche Sammlung von Mikroorganismen und Zellkulturen GmbH, Braunschweig, Germany.


European Biological Resource Centers Network (, a EU-funded network of 15 European culture collections of microorganisms and cell cultures (2001–2004).


European Culture Collection’s Organisation (, a network of European Culture Collections and BRCs (see Box 11.4).


European Consortium of Microbial Resource Centers ( networking the BCCM™/LMG, Belgium






Germany and two French research collections INRA-CIRM-BP in Tours and CIRM-BIA, Rennes), aiming to improve, coordinate and validate microbial resource center (MRC) delivery to European and International researchers from both public and private sectors (Box 11.4).


European Network of Biodiversity Information (, an EU funded project established to include all European national nodes of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). (2003–2006).


European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures a strategic instrument to develop the scientific integration of Europe and to strengthen its international outreach (


Federation of European Microbiological Societies (


Global Biodiversity Information Facility (, an international government-initiated and funded initiative focused on making biodiversity data free and openly available online.


Global Biological Resource Center Network (, a project following work in the OECD to improve access to high quality biological resources and information to support research and biotechnology as a platform for a knowledge-based bio-economy.


Center International de Ressources Microbiennes - Bacteries d'Interet Alimentaire, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, Rennes, France.


Center International de Ressources Microbiennes – Bacteries Pathogenes, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, Nouzilly, France.


Korean Agricultural Culture Collection, National Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology, Suwon, Republic of Korea.


Korean Collection for Type Cultures, Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Taejon, Republic of Korea.


The Belgian Consortium of Collections of Microorganisms (BCCM™), represented by the Universiteit Gent, Belgium.


Microbial Information Network Europe, an EU-funded network of European culture collections, running between 1986–1989 and 1990–1993.


Microbial Resource Research Infrastructure (, a pan- European distributed research infrastructure established on the European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) road map with the goal to improve access to the microbial resources and services that are needed to accelerate research and discovery processes.


Micro-Organisms Sustainable use and Access regulation International Code of Conduct, an EU-funded project (1997–1999), a tool to support the implementation of CBD at the microbial level, in accordance with other relevant rules of international and national laws.


Microtheca do Universidade do Minho, Braga, Portugal.


Biological Resource Center, National Institute of Technology and Evaluation, Chiba Pref., Japan.


National Collection of Agricultural and Industrial Microorganisms, Department of Microbiology and Biotechnology, University of Horticulture and Food Industry, Budapest, Hungary.


Netherlands Culture Collection of Bacteria, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


National Collection of Industrial and Marine Bacteria, National Collections of Industrial, Food and Marine Bacteria, Aberdeen, UK.


National Collection of Type Cultures, Central Public Health Laboratory, London, UK.


Northern Regional Research Center, Agricultural Research Service Culture Collection, National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, US Department of Agriculture, Peoria, Illinois, USA.


Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (


Culture Collection of Algae Sammlung von Algenkulturen, University Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany.


The Belgian Consortium of Collections of Microorganisms (BCCM™), Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium.


World Data Center of Microorganisms, an activity of the WFCC, providing an electronic gateway to databases on microbes and cell lines and resources on biodiversity, molecular biology and genomes (see Box 11.3).


World Federation for Culture Collections (, a Federation within the International Union of Microbiological Societies (IUMS, (see Box 11.2).


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We wish to thank all contributing collections for sharing their data with us. Special thanks go to Dunja Martin, Hanover, for critically reading and for improving this chapter.

This chapter has been prepared under the EMbaRC project (EU Seventh Framework Programme Research Infrastructures (INFRA-2008- Biological Resources Centers (BRCs) for microorganisms (Grant agreement number: FP7- 228310) and for the GBRCN Demonstration Project, financed by the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF), the German Federal Ministry of Research and Education.

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Smith, D., Fritze, D., Stackebrandt, E. (2013). Public Service Collections and Biological Resource Centers of Microorganisms. In: Rosenberg, E., DeLong, E.F., Lory, S., Stackebrandt, E., Thompson, F. (eds) The Prokaryotes. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

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