Compiled by the World Federation for Culture Collections Biodiversity Committee, June 4th 1999

In response to the CBD's study of pre-CBD deposits held in ex-situ collections, the World Federation for Culture Collections contacted a number of its members to establish the extent of such holdings and the information available about them.

A short questionnaire was published in a recent WFCC Newsletter (distribution about 200) and there follows a compilation of the first responses received so far.


    - Name of Collection:
    - Country in which Collection is resident:
    - Approximate number of pre-CBD deposits (pre 1993): <100; >100; >1000; other
    -Whether the following information is likely to be available on these deposits:

      Country of origin
      Name of Depositor
      Date of deposit
    -Comments: eg type of data available; manpower required to get full data; data on cards/in digital format

*Note - total holdings were not requested, but see note below table.


Note: these are major regional or international supply collections; most have been established for a considerable time.

BCCM Belgian Coordinated Collections of Microorganisms, LMG Bacterial Collection & LMBP Plasmid Collection & MUCL filamentous fungi and yeasts collection - Belgium
CBS Centraalbureau voor Schimmelcultures - Netherlands
CCT Colecao do Culturas Tropical - Brazil
CECT Coleccion Espanola de Cultivos Tipo - Spain
CCAP Culture Centre for Algae and Protozoa - UK
DSM Deutsche Sammlung von Mikroorganismen und Zellkulturen - Germany
CABI Bioscience Centre (UK), formerly International Mycological Institute - UK
NCIMB National Collection of Industrial and Marine Bacteria - UK
PPRI National Collection of Fungi - South Africa
SARC South African Rhizobium Collection - South Africa]

Data provided on pre-CBD deposits
Collection acronym Country of residence No. Pre-CBD deposits Total holdings* Data in questionnaire
Data computerised
BCCM/LMG bacterial collection Belgium 13,275 18,500 Country 6700
Depositor 12950
Date deposit 12550
BCCM/LMBP Plasmid collection Belgium 869 plasmid DNAs, equivalent to 2493 host/plasmid combinations ? Country - problem with plasmidsDepositor - mostDate - none for pre-CDB deposits Yes. Much plasmid data available
BCCM/MUCL fungi/yeast collection Belgium ~13,700 ~25,000 Country - 100%
Depositor - 70%
Date - 70%
Yes, for 13,465 strains
CBS Netherlands 21,314 23,185 All required data available; some data fields are empty Yes, and much strain data is online in addition to catalogue data; back-up data on cards generated electronically
CCAP UK 2000 ? Most deposits have information on the country of origin; some have data on the name of the depositor and date Yes, and readily retrieved
CCT Brazil 3800 6521 Required data on pre-CBD cultures available for ~75%
For post-CBD cultures ~85%
Yes, but more support required to customize data to meet CBD requirements
CECT Spain 3000 7000 Info. not supplied, but as data in same format as other EU collections, it should be available Yes
DSMZ Germany 11,100 13,800 Country 3300
Depositor 8500
Other data on depositor 5200
All available data in computer; not all records complete
CABI Bioscience UK Centre (formerly IMI) UK 17,171 20, 864 Data in computer:
Country 13838
Depositor 4997
Date deposit 17,171
All required data in accession books

All required data in hardcopy accession books; much data in computer
NCIMB UK Approx.7000 7500 Most data available for the majority of cultures, but 'by no means all' Some in computer; some in card index
PPRI South Africa 4500
Some available; some lack complete records No; need funding to complete
SARC South Africa 600
Country 480
Depositor 180
Date deposit 90
Underway; need more funding to complete


* This figure was not requested, but has been supplied by some Collections.

BCCM/LMG - a number of strains deposited post-CBD were isolated pre-CBD (pre January 1994). These have not been included in the numbers above.

BCCM/LMBP - the question of country of origin is very difficult with many plasmids. Several countries may be involved, or the origin of some sequences may not be known and cannot be traced. Pre CBD relates to June 1992.

CBS - pre-CBD data relates to pre 1995. There is 'nearly always' data on required data. CBS produced a very interesting list on countries from which deposits had been received. There are ~170 countries listed with numbers of deposits varying between several thousand from USA, European countries and Canada to single deposits from Afghanistan, Cameroon, Mongolia or the Seychelles, for example

DSMZ - Pre-CBD data relates to pre Dec 1993. Data for some 100's of deposits is incomplete for a number of reasons. Geographical data is not precise (eg USA, USSR).

CABI Bioscience (IMI) have data to show that 11,000 deposits originate from CABI member countries, 3800 of which originate in the UK

SARC holds many international rhizobia and data on these may only be held by the original collections. This data could be obtained if other collections collaborate, but would take about 60 days to obtain and resources would be required.

PPRI has problems with optimum maintenance methods and some isolates may have died or exhibited strain drift. Records in card index system, pending more support to computerise.


[A potential source of DNA for biotechnology in the future]

The CABI Biosystematics Reference Collection holds 380,000 specimens representing 3000 species; data is computerised back to 1985; it is hoped to computerise all data.

The PREM collection in South Africa is a dried herbarium collection of 54,000 specimens. Much information available but in serious need of support to update information and complete computerisation.


It is clear from this small sample of the world's ex-situ microbial resource centres that the majority of holdings are pre-CBD (about 50-90% at present). The amount of data listed above is variable. In some cases the complete data is available. In other cases there is missing data. Some collections (notably those in the EU that were partners in the MINE -Microbial Information Network project) have most data in computers so that good lists of categories of information can be generated. Other collections are unable to computerise much of their data due to resource limitations and local problems with computers. Geographical data of many pre-CBD deposits is imprecise and the 'country of origin' may not be traceable because of country boundary changes, break-up of unions into separate states, and similar changes.

To obtain full data on all pre-CBD deposits would be a very big effort for many collections and resources would have to be found to complete the work. Although some collections are well-computerised, finding 'missing' data would still be time-consuming and in a good number of instances impossible, due to lack of original information at the time of deposit (often going back several decades). Most of the collections that have returned information to the WFCC are major resource centres, so it can be expected that the majority of collections around the world will have far greater difficulties in providing the kind of information listed above. Therefore tracking beneficiaries could be difficult in many instances and impossible in others. [The collections themselves are always beneficiaries because of the major conservation role they play.]

It is notable that some post-CBD information is also incomplete and this is due to a number of reasons. The data may not be supplied by the depositor; the data has not yet been entered into records by the collection; verification by the recipient collection is still underway and so on. It can be expected that the situation will improve as guidelines and codes of conduct for operating within the framework of the CBD are developed and become accepted (see EU MOSAICC project).