6,000 Strains of Bacteria Under 1 Roof

6,000 Strains of Bacteria Under 1 Roof

6,000 Strains of Bacteria Under 1 Roof

6,000 Strains of Bacteria Under 1 Roof

In 2019, the collection sent 3,803 ampuls of bacteria to 63 countries. Among the most requested genera, were Clostridium (a leading cause of infectious diarrhea), E. coli (360 strains, some dangerous, others harmless), Staphylococcus (causing infections ranging from mild to fatal), Mycobacteriaceae (responsible for tuberculosis and leprosy, among others) and Salmonella (from contaminated food).

They’re shipped from a distribution center outside London under strict protocols, with safe handling instructions. Most bacteria are biosafety level two or three, which means they can cause serious or lethal diseases but have a cure. Level 4, the deadliest, includes only viruses.

The collection is also growing at a good clip.

“We receive anywhere between 50 and 200 strains a year from all sorts of sources,” said Jake Turnbull, a microbiologist at the collection.

Some are newly discovered, called type strains. Others are deposited from historical collections, or by scientists who retire or shift their research focus and want their strains to have a future.

New specimens are cultured on agar to make sure they’re alive and uncontaminated, suspended in a sugar-rich cryoprotectant broth, freeze-dried at about minus 28 degrees Fahrenheit for 3 to 4 hours, plugged with sterilized cotton, flame sealed in an evacuated glass ampul and stored at 39 degrees. Not all specimens survive long-term storage.

“The process we use is very similar to the one developed in the 1930s,” Ms. Russell said.

Each sample must come with a description of its origin, identification and special characteristics that are added to a searchable database.

“Fifty years ago, you may just get a handwritten letter with a strain,” Dr. Alexander said. “Now we may get a strain that’s had its whole genome sequenced.”


Source link

Check Also

A.A. to Zoom, Substance Abuse Treatment Goes Online

A.A. to Zoom, Substance Abuse Treatment Goes Online

A.A. to Zoom, Substance Abuse Treatment Goes Online A.A. to Zoom, Substance Abuse Treatment Goes …