The CBS culture collections of micro-organisms are embedded in a scientific environment, which guarantees state of the art quality checks and allowes the development of scientific programmes to improve the quality of the material entrusted to them. CBS was actively involved in setting the standards for modern long-term preservation as well as for data storage, recognizing the necessity of data exchangeability. Already in the eighties common formats for microbial data were developed, which brought the collections to the forefront of digitalization, and greatly facilitated the development of a common catalogue realized in the EU programme CABRI (Common Access to Biotechnological Resources and Information (www.cabri.org). CBS was actively involved in setting up criteria and minimal demands for culture collections within the CABRI framework. In short, CBS developed from a culture collection into a Biological Resource Centre (BRC) according to the OECD definition:
Biological Resource Centres are an essential part of the infrastructure underpinning life sciences and biotechnology. They consist of service providers and repositories of the living cells, genomes of organism, and information relating to heredity and the functions of biological systems. BRCs contain collections of culturable organisms (e.g. micro-organisms, plant, animal and human cells), replicable parts of these organisms, cells and tissues, as well as databases containing molecular, physiological and structural information relevant to these collections and related bioinformatics. BRCs must meet the high standards of quality and expertise demanded by the international community of scientists and industry for the delivery of biological resources on which R&D in the life sciences and the advancement of biotechnology depends.
Biological Resource Centres – Underpinning the Future of Life Sciences and Biotechnology (click here for PDF).
The collections of CBS offer a comprehensive coverage of the culturable biodiversity of the fungal Kingdom (over 50,000 strains), while the prokaryotes are represented by unique collections of bacterial mutants, hosts suitable for DNA research, genetically engineered plasmids, broad-host-range plasmids and phages. A large staff of scientists with expertise on every systematic group represented in the collections and a dedicated staff of technicians for maintenance and distribution, guarantee the quality of the strains and the maintenance of all regulations concerning biosafety.
The Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD)
The CBD, which is ratified by over 180 countries including the Netherlands affects all living genetic resources collected since 1993, thus including microbial strains. The Convention gives sovereign rights to the country of origin and aims at fair and equitable benefit sharing, especially with regard to the country of origin in the case of successful economic exploiting of these genetic resources. It requires a Prior Informed Consent (PIC) from depositors, and a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) or Mutually Agreed Terms (MAT) from clients. Although the implications for depositors, culture collections and clients are not always clear, and appropriate institutions often not in place, efforts are being undertaken to reach a workable solution.
It is the responsibility of the collector of microbial genetic resources to ensure that the material has been collected with a PIC of the country of origin. It is the responsibility of the depositor to ensure that the deposit of the material in an open collection does not infringe on any (inter)national obligation. To enable clients of the BRC to act in agreement with the CBD and/or to enable the BRC to play an intermediate role, CBS will inform the client of the country of origin; as a consequence no material is accepted with unknown origin.
CBS strains are distributed under the conditions of the CBD. It is the responsibility of the client to ensure that the obligations under the CBD are fulfilled. In order to ensure traceability of the material, distribution of strains to third parties is not allowed.
Strains obtained from CBS used for publications should be cited with their CBS number.