Submitted Successfully!
To reward your contribution, here is a gift for you: A free trial for our video production service.
Thank you for your contribution! You can also upload a video entry or images related to this topic.
Version Summary Created by Modification Content Size Created at Operation
1 The role of CCs and mBRCs in the preservation, characterization, management and exploitation of microorganisms, key in maintaining ecosystems, developing applications in the biotech and food industries to address societal challenges, is highlighted. + 1527 word(s) 1527 2019-12-20 09:16:01 |
2 format correct + 2 word(s) 1529 2020-10-30 04:46:23 |

Video Upload Options

Do you have a full video?


Are you sure to Delete?
If you have any further questions, please contact Encyclopedia Editorial Office.
De Vero, L.; Boniotti, M.B.; Marilena, B.; Buzzini, P.; Cassanelli, S.; Comunian, R.; Gullo, M.; Logrieco, A.; Mannazzu, I.; Musumeci, R.; et al. MIRRI-IT: Italian Culture Collections. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 24 June 2024).
De Vero L, Boniotti MB, Marilena B, Buzzini P, Cassanelli S, Comunian R, et al. MIRRI-IT: Italian Culture Collections. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed June 24, 2024.
De Vero, Luciana, M. Beatrice Boniotti, Budroni Marilena, Pietro Buzzini, Stefano Cassanelli, Roberta Comunian, Maria Gullo, Antonio Logrieco, Ilaria Mannazzu, Rosario Musumeci, et al. "MIRRI-IT: Italian Culture Collections" Encyclopedia, (accessed June 24, 2024).
De Vero, L., Boniotti, M.B., Marilena, B., Buzzini, P., Cassanelli, S., Comunian, R., Gullo, M., Logrieco, A., Mannazzu, I., Musumeci, R., Perugini, I., Perrone, G., Pulvirenti, A., Romano, P., Turchetti, B., & Varese, G.C. (2019, December 24). MIRRI-IT: Italian Culture Collections. In Encyclopedia.
De Vero, Luciana, et al. "MIRRI-IT: Italian Culture Collections." Encyclopedia. Web. 24 December, 2019.
MIRRI-IT: Italian Culture Collections

Microorganisms represent most of the biodiversity of living organisms in every ecological habitat. They have profound effects on the functioning of any ecosystem and, therefore, on the health of our planet and of human beings. Moreover, microorganisms are the main protagonists in food, medical and biotech industries, and have several environmental applications.Accordingly, the characterization and preservation of microbial biodiversity are essential not only for the maintenance of natural ecosystems but also for research purposes and biotechnological exploitation. In this context, culture collections (CCs) and microbial biological resource centres (mBRCs) are crucial for the safeguarding and circulation of biological resources, as well as for the progress of life sciences.

biobanks biological resource centres biotechnology bioeconomy

1. Introduction

Culture collections (CCs) and microbial Biological Resource Centres (mBRCs) play a pivotal role in the safeguarding and circulation of biological resources and are fundamental for the progress of life sciences. Both are ex-situ repositories for biodiversity and providers of useful microorganisms (living cells and their replicable parts) and related information, for research and for environmental and industrial application [1][2]. CCs reach mBRC status after having implemented the Best Practice Guidelines defined by the Organisation for Economic, Cooperation and Development (OECD) and certified and/or accredited quality-assurance processes, according to dedicated standard norms [3]. Thus, mBRCs operate in a quality-controlled manner [4]and fulfil the quality standards required by the industry and by the scientific community [5]. This makes mBRCs key elements in sustainable international scientific infrastructures for the development of biotechnology and the bioeconomy as well as in facing societal challenges.

2. MIRRI-IT: The Italian Network of Culture Collections

Europe has played a pioneering role in the preservation of biological resources. The first public CC was created at the end of the 19th century at the German University of Prague. Within a few years, numerous other important collections arose in several European countries, which currently support a high number of CCs and host the largest and most diverse mBRCs. Most of these CCs are corporate members of the European Culture Collections Organisation (ECCO, that was established in 1981 with the aim of promoting collaboration and exchange of ideas and information about all aspects of the activity of CCs. Actually, 250 European CCs are registered in the World Data Centre for Microorganisms (WDCM,, whose collections house more than 1.2 million strains.

Similar initiatives are underway in the USA [6][7][8], Asia [9] and South America [10]. The global CC community mainly interacts through the activities of the World Federation for Culture Collections (WFCC,, which actually involves 789 CCs from 77 Countries.

These networking activities are fundamental for increasing the quality and efficiency of the management of CCs; most of these, indeed, have to face common challenges, i.e., the adoption of appropriate quality control, safety, security and legal procedures (although the latter may differ among different countries), as well as the need for taxonomic, systematic and bioinformatic expertise. Often, these challenges must be faced with limited staff resources and insufficient financial commitment, which makes it difficult to maintain high standards and to guarantee excellent services [4][7].

Examples of these networking activities are the Microbial Information Network Europe (MINE), Common Access to Biological Resources and Information (CABRI), European Biological Resource Centre Network (EBRCN) and the European Consortium of Microbial Resource Centres (EMbaRC), at European level, and the Global Biological Resource Centre Network (GBRCN) at global level. These networks developed strategies to transform CCs into mBRCs. They made many efforts, with some relevant results, for the establishment of a suitable accreditation system, the definition of common standards and procedures, and the implementation of integrated on-line catalogues to facilitate consultation by the stakeholders.

The most recent and important activity of collections and research institutions in Europe is MIRRI (Microbial Resource Research Infrastructure,, which was launched in 2010 as biomedical research infrastructure within the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI, initiative. MIRRI seeks to improve access to high-quality microbial resources and to associated services and (meta)data by creating a pan-European, distributed infrastructure of CCs, mBRCs and stakeholders [2][11][12][13].

MIRRI, in November 2018, applied for its implementation in a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) able to bring mBRC partners under a single legal umbrella supported by interested European member states. The foreseen configuration of MIRRI-ERIC currently involves 10 countries that have already signed a memorandum of understanding (Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain and The Netherlands). They are called to provide financial support to the implementation of the Central Coordination Unit (CCU) that will serve as the executive management office, as well as, on a national level, their own national node (NN) and serve the needs of the national community. While the CCU is clearly defined at the European level by an agreement among interested countries, the NNs may follow various forms in order to adapt to the national context.

Regarding the Italian scenario, there are numerous CCs, which preserve a huge amount of biological resources that include bacteria, yeasts, filamentous fungi, microalgae, protozoa, plasmids, cyanobacteria, archaea, virus, phages and cell lines. However, many of these collections, including some hosted by universities and research centres, do not follow relevant international standards, and their databases are not always accessible on-line. In some cases, their existence is known solely through publications, conferences or just personal contacts. Some collections are constituted for special purposes or within the frame of specific projects and sometimes their maintenance is strictly dependent on research targets, resources and facilities, as well as specific interests of the scientists involved. Up to now, coordination among these collections has still been limited.

In September 2017, a joint research unit (JRU), named MIRRI-IT (Microbial Resource Research Infrastructure  Italy,, was founded by the Universities of Torino, Perugia, Modena and Reggio Emilia, the IRCCS Ospedale Policlinico San Martino of Genoa, and the Italian National Research Council (CNR). Sixteen new associated members, harbouring distinct collections, joined the MIRRI network afterwards (Table 1).

The mission of MIRRI-IT is to overcome fragmentation in the availability of resources and services offered by the Italian system of mBRCs and CCs, while enhancing the quality management system of the collections, focusing on the needs and challenges of the stakeholders interested in the biotechnological transfer of these resources. The main activities of MIRRI-IT are reported in scheme I.

Table 1. Partners and associated members of the joint research unit MIRRI-IT.

MIRRI-IT* Partners1 and Associated Members2

Culture Collections

Biological Resources

(Main Taxa)

Isolation Sources (Category)

Research Centres:




Agenzia nazionale per le nuove tecnologie, l’energia e lo sviluppo economico sostenibile (ENEA) 2


ENEA collection

Bacteria, Fungi, Microalgae, Microbial consortia, Virus

Contaminated sites, Hypogea and archaeological sites, Food, Lake sediments, Sea, Soil, Rhizosphere, Water  

Agenzia regionale per la ricerca in agricoltura, (Agris Sardegna) 2

Bonassai (BNSS)

Bacteria (Actinobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Firmicutes, Proteobacteria)

Animals, Food

Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR) 1

Agro-Food Microbial Culture Collection (ITEM)

Bacteria, Filamentous fungi, Yeasts

Air, Insects, Food, Plants, Soil


Plant Viruses Italy (PLAVIT)

Mycoviruses, Phytoplasmas, Phages Plant viruses

Fungi, Plants

IRCCS Ospedale Policlinico San Martino of Genoa 1

Interlab Cell Line Collection (ICLC)

Cell lines


Istituto Nazionale Malattie Infettive (INMI) “Lazzaro Spallanzani”, Roma 2

INMI collection

Bacteria, Yeasts

Humans, Clinical isolates

Istituto Nazionale di Oceanografia e di Geofisica Sperimentale, Trieste (OGS) 2


Collection of Sea Microorganisms (COSMI)

Microalgae (predominantly Bacillariophyceae, Dinophyceae,)

Marine environments

Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Lombardia e dell’Emilia Romagna (IZSLER) 2

Biobank of Veterinary Resources (BVR)

Cell lines, Bacteria, Fungi, Parasite, Virus

Animals, Feed, Food, Environments

Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie (IZSVE) 2

European Union Reference Laboratory (EURL) Biobank

Viruses, Antigens, Polyclonal antisera






Sapienza University of Rome, Department of Environmental Biology 2

Fungal Biodiversity Laboratory (FBL)

Saprotrophic fungi

Litter, Contaminated sites, Soil, Water

University of Cagliari 2

DSMSP Collection

Bacteria, Moulds, Yeasts

Beverages, Environments, Food

University of Basilicata, School of Agricultural, Forestry, Food and Environmental Sciences 2

UNIBAS Yeast Collection (UBYC)


Beverages, Food

University of Genoa 2


Collection of DISTAV (ColD)

Bacteria, Fungi, Yeasts

Extreme environments, Human cadaver

University of Milano-Bicocca 2

MicroMiB Culture Collection (MicroMib)

Bacteria, Yeasts, Virus

Humans, Environments, Food

University of Modena and Reggio Emilia 1

Unimore Microbial Culture Collection (UMCC)

Bacteria (Lactic Acid Bacteria, Proteobacteria), Yeasts (Ascomycota)

Beverages, Food

University of Naples “Federico II”, Department of Biology 2

Algal Collection University Federico II (ACUF)

Cyanobacteria, Microalgae

Aeroterrestrial habitats, Environments

University of Palermo, Department of Agricultural, Food and Forest Sciences 2

Herbarium SAF (SAF)


Ascomata, Basidiomata

University of Pavia, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences2

Amico Fungo

Filamentous Fungi, Yeasts

Soil, Contaminated sites

University of Perugia 1

Industrial Yeasts Collection (DBVPG)

Yeasts, Yeast-like organisms

Foods and Beverages, Environments

University of Sassari 2

Microbial Culture Collection of University of Sassari (UNISS)

Bacteria (Firmicutes, Proteobacteria), Filamentous fungi, Yeasts (Ascomycota, Basidiomycota)

Agricultural by-products, Animals, Beverages, Environments, Food, Plants, Humans

University of Turin 1



Turin University Culture Collection (TUCC) including Mycotheca Universitatis Taurinenesis (MUT)

Bacteria (Firmicutes, Lactic Acid bacteria, Proteobacteria) Filamentous fungi (Ascomycota, Basidiomycota, Mucoromycota), Yeasts

Animal and human clinical Samples, Extreme environments, Food

University of Tuscia, Department of Ecological and Biological Sciences 2

Culture Collection of Fungi from Extreme Environments (CCFEE)

Filamentous and Meristematic fungi, Lichens, Yeasts

Monuments, Contaminated sites, Rocks, Soil


Microorganisms 07 00685 sch001 550

Scheme I. Main activities of the joint research unit MIRRI-IT.

The publication can be found here:


  1. Çaktü, K.; Türkoˇ glu, E.A. Microbial culture collections: The essential resources for life. Gazi Univ. J. Sci.2011, 24, 175–180.
  2. Erko Stackebrandt; David Smith; Serge Casaregola; Giovanna Cristina Varese; Gerard Verkleij; Nelson Lima; Paul Bridge; Deposit of microbial strains in public service collections as part of the publication process to underpin good practice in science.. SpringerPlus 2014, 3, 208, 10.1186/2193-1801-3-208.
  3. David Smith; Kevin McCluskey; Erko Stackebrandt; Investment into the future of microbial resources: culture collection funding models and BRC business plans for biological resource centres.. SpringerPlus 2014, 3, 81, 10.1186/2193-1801-3-81.
  4. Jörg Overmann; Significance and future role of microbial resource centers. Systematic and Applied Microbiology 2015, 38, 258-265, 10.1016/j.syapm.2015.02.008.
  5. Danielle Janssens; David R. Arahal; Chantal Bizet; Esperanza Garay; The role of public biological resource centers in providing a basic infrastructure for microbial research. Research in Microbiology 2010, 161, 422-429, 10.1016/j.resmic.2010.03.009.
  6. Kyria Boundy-Mills; Matthias Hess; A. Rick Bennett; Matthew Ryan; Seogchan Kang; David Nobles; Jonathan A. Eisen; Patrik Inderbitzin; Irnayuli R. Sitepu; Tamas Torok; et al.Daniel R. BrownJuliana ChoJohn E. WertzSupratim MukherjeeSherry L. CadyKevin McCluskey The United States Culture Collection Network (USCCN): Enhancing Microbial Genomics Research through Living Microbe Culture Collections. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 2015, 81, 5671-5674, 10.1128/AEM.01176-15.
  7. Kevin McCluskey; A Review of Living Collections with Special Emphasis on Sustainability and Its Impact on Research Across Multiple Disciplines.. Biopreservation and Biobanking 2016, 15, 20-30, 10.1089/bio.2016.0066.
  8. M. J. Ryan; K. McCluskey; G. Verkleij; V. Robert; D. Smith; Fungal biological resources to support international development: challenges and opportunities.. World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology 2019, 35, 139, 10.1007/s11274-019-2709-7.
  9. SunHee Lee; Paul Eunil Jung; Yeonhee Lee; Publicly-funded biobanks and networks in East Asia. SpringerPlus 2016, 5, 1080, 10.1186/s40064-016-2723-2.
  10. Cledir Santos; The Chilean Network of Microbial Culture Collections: Establishment and Operation. Boletín Micológico 2016, 31, 44-50, 10.22370/bolmicol.2016.31.2.491.
  11. Martin, D.; Stackebrandt, E.; Smith, D. MIRRI Promoting Quality Management Systems for Microbiology. Microbiol. Perspect. 2015, 2, 278–287.
  12. Manuela Schüngel; Erko Stackebrandt; Microbial Resource Research Infrastructure (MIRRI): Infrastructure to foster academic research and biotechnological innovation. Biotechnology Journal 2014, 10, 17-19, 10.1002/biot.201400481.
  13. David Smith; Manuela Da Silva; Julian Jackson; Christopher Lyal; Explanation of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing and its implication for microbiology. Microbiology 2017, 163, 289-296, 10.1099/mic.0.000425.
Subjects: Microbiology
Contributors MDPI registered users' name will be linked to their SciProfiles pages. To register with us, please refer to : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
View Times: 1.2K
Revisions: 2 times (View History)
Update Date: 30 Oct 2020
Video Production Service