Picnic on a meadow in good company: preserving micro-organisms for the future!

The picnic scene presented by the Belgian Co-ordinated Collections of Micro-organisms (BCCM) highlights a selection of 12 micro-organisms present in our daily life. The BCCM collections preserve thousands of microbial strains for current and future use. The depicted biological diversity, ranging in size from nanometres (10-9 m) to micrometres (10-6 m), was mainly photographed under the microscope. The micro-organisms are preserved at ultra-low temperature or in freeze-dried form to slow down their metabolism and keep them viable indefinitely. Some types of organisms can only be maintained as living cultures.

Micro-organisms that give taste to our lives...

Fermented food is rich in beneficial bacteria that prevent the spread of microbes that spoil food.
Latilactobacillus sakei subsp. carnosus (LMG 21529) is used to produce fermented meat products such as salami.

Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis (LMG 8522) is used to produce fermented milk products such as cheese.

Penicillium roqueforti (MUCL 38771), a fungus, is the main actor in the maturation of Roquefort cheese and other blue-veined cheeses, giving them their organoleptic properties.

Saccharomyces cerevisiae (MUCL 39449)is the economically most important yeast that raises bread and other doughs. It adds flavor to these and many foods like beer and cocoa.

Haematococcus lacustris (DCG 0589) is cultivated for its production of astaxanthin, a carotenoid that is used as an antioxidant food supplement or for the pigmentation of salmon, trout, and shrimp.

Haslea ostrearia (DCG 1054) is known for its ability to produce marennine, a blue-green water-soluble pigment, which is responsible for the oyster greening and delicious taste.

Arthrospira platensis (ULC 0444), better known as Spirulina, is used as a rich protein source in superfood e.g. in smoothies, as well as in powder or tablets. Due to its richness in nutrients, this species has promising applications in the biomedical field.

Micro-organisms that interfere with our health…

Spores of Alternaria alternata (IHEM 3320), airborne cause of respiratory allergy.

Microsporum canis (IHEM 22627), causing skin infections in pets and humans.

Mycobacterium avium (ITM 500090) is responsible for respiratory illness in birds.

Mycobacterium terrae (ITM 500041) can cause rarely disseminated infections in aids patients.

Plasmids are small circular pieces of extrachromosomal DNA. They are used in various applications of biotechnology. Thanks to plasmid pLT10T3 (LMBP 3384) for example, Escherichia coli BL21(DE3) (LMBP 1455) can produce insulin on a large scale.

Confidently, BCCM is looking forward to celebrate its 40th anniversary, with growing collections that are more vibrant than ever and resolutely open to the future!
Are you intrigued by this dive into the microscopic world? Welcome to the BCCM website and social media for more information!

Harbouring more than 280,000 publicly accessible biological resources, BCCM is one of the world's leading networks of collections of microbiological material. Bacteria, fungi, microalgae, plasmids and DNA libraries constitute the precious biodiversity heritage of the seven collections of the BCCM consortium. The main mission of BCCM is the preservation, study and distribution of these micro-organisms, thus constituting a "living" database that reflects microbiological diversity. Scientists around the world call on the BCCM expertise and use the quality biological material maintained by its collections for research purposes, in educational activities, as reference controls, to develop new methods and processes, to produce drugs, foods, biostimulants for agriculture or enzymes for industry, and much more. BCCM is a research programme funded and coordinated by the Federal Science Policy (BELSPO).