Culture Shock: Precious Microbe Collections Languish in Threatened Bio-Libraries (Scientific American)

Scientific American: Culture Shock: Precious Microbe Collections Languish in Threatened Bio-Libraries. “Freeze-dried and locked away in liquid nitrogen–filled vaults around the world are hundreds of thousands of microbial cultures. In the U.S. these living libraries include 91,000 bacterial and fungal strains in Peoria, Ill., as well as 13,000 fungal strains in Ithaca, N.Y., and 7,500 wild yeasts at the University of California, Davis. Researchers have used strains from such publicly accessible culture collections to develop penicillin as well as the CRISPR gene-editing systems and the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) DNA-amplifying technique. But as government priorities apparently change, and as the federal money that historically created and preserved many of these biological resource repositories in the U.S. dries up, their infrastructure is at risk of deteriorating. “