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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Mycotoxin Prevention and Applied Microbiology Research

Title: The ARS (NRRL) Culture Collection – An Important Resource for the Scientific Community

item Labeda, David

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/7/2012
Publication Date: 9/7/2012
Citation: Labeda, D.P. 2012. The ARS (NRRL) Culture Collection – An Important Resource for the Scientific Community. Meeting Abstract.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The ARS Culture Collection, also known as the NRRL Culture Collection, is one of the largest public collections of microbial germplasm in the world and an internationally recognized center of expertise for the systematics, taxonomy, and biology of various groups of microorganisms. Begun in 1940 with the opening of the Northern Regional Research Laboratory, the holdings now include over 70,000 strains of fungi and more than 21,000 strains of bacteria. In addition, the ARS Patent Culture Collection, created in 1949, contains an additional 6,100 strains, many of which were deposited under the Budapest Treaty in association with patent applications in the United States and any of the 77 other countries that are contracting parties of this microbial patent deposition treaty. The focus of the collection has changed over the years and currently is supporting specific priority ARS research areas, including food safety and crop production The collection distributed approximately 6,100 strains in the last 12 months to customers within the US and throughout the world and has had a tremendous impact on microbiological research and innovation as evidenced by the fact that strains from this collection have been cited in 2,681 publications and 1,925 patent applications in the last 4 years. Public access to the collection is through the online catalog available on the collection website at which currently contains records for about 13,000 strains. The current collection database management system, including the website, runs on the Linux operating system and has continually evolved since it first was deployed in 2002 to improve collection operations. Inventory management modules were developed for both lyophilized preparations and those maintained as frozen stocks in liquid nitrogen so that this function could be centralized and address biosecurity concerns. More recently a strain request shopping cart module and strain request processing system were developed and deployed in 2010, enabling collection customers to request strains online through the website for the first time. These improvements in collection data management greatly facilitated the realignment of the various taxonomic collections, each of which had its own management and operation models, into a unified collection management model in which daily operations, including strain accessions and requests, have been standardized and are handled by a collection manager and support staff under the direction of the Research Leader for the Bacterial Foodborne Pathogens and Mycology Research Unit. The ARS Culture Collection benefits significantly from direct connections to five active research laboratories, directed by internationally recognized scientists whose research continuously generates new data and novel germplasm, and whose expertise adds tremendous knowledge and value to the collection.

Last Modified: 06/28/2017
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