The BCCM/IHEM collection preserves and distributes more than 15.000 strains of yeasts and moulds of medical and veterinary interest. It belongs to the BCCM consortium grouping different Belgian culture collections, each dedicated to a particular type of microorganism. Strains maintained in the BCCM/IHEM collection are isolated from all over the world and represent an important biodiversity with more than 1.200 different species.
Created in 1980, the BCCM/IHEM collection gathers notably fungal pathogens of human and animal origin, strains producing mycotoxins or causing allergies, as well as contaminants of the environment. The goal is to valorise these strains by making them available to the scientific community and industrials.
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Different conservation methods are used such as freeze-drying and cryopreservation in liquid nitrogen vapour. Moreover the information linked to each strain is recorded in a database. The activities of the collection are ISO 9001 certified and the quality controls performed on strains after their preservation are ISO 17025 accredited. Besides public deposits, safe and patent deposits are also proposed, the collection being internationally recognised as depository authority by the Budapest Treaty.
The BCCM/IHEM collection integrated the Raymond Vanbreuseghem collection in 1997 which was previously housed at the Institute of Tropical Medicine of Antwerp. It also integrated the Janssen Pharmaceutica collection in 2000.
BCCM/IHEM proposes various services including the identification of fungal strains by MALDI-TOF MS and DNA sequencing, antifungal susceptibility testing and several trainings in mycology. The collection also runs scientific research projects in collaboration with Belgian and foreign partners.