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The Microbial Type Culture Collection and Gene Bank (MTCC), a national facility established in 1986 is funded jointly by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Government of India. The MTCC, housed at the Institute of Microbial Technology (IMTECH), Chandigarh, has established itself as a distinguished culture collection centre for microbial resources in India. It is an affiliate member of the World Federation for Culture Collections (WFCC) and is registered with the World Data Centre for Microorganisms (WDCM).The main objectives of this national facility are to act as a depository, to supply authentic microbial cultures and to provide related services to the scientists working in research institutions, universities and industries.

The MTCC was recognized by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Geneva, Switzerland as an International Depository Authority (IDA) under the Budapest Treaty on 4 October, 2002, thus becoming the first IDA in India, seventh in Asia and thirty-fourth in the World. The deposit of microorganisms under the Budapest Treaty is recognized to fulfill the requirement of patent procedure in 55 member countries.

Research institutes, academic organizations, pharmaceutical, biotech and food industries involved in microbiological and biotechnological research regularly approach MTCC for microbial cultures and other microbiology-related services. Presently, the MTCC has five sections, the Actinomycetes, Bacteria, Fungi, Yeasts and Plasmids and collectively holding over nine thousand cultures. Generally cultures are preserved under liquid nitrogen and by freeze-drying. The fungi are also preserved under mineral oil. Viability and some key characteristics of the organisms are periodically checked so that cultures continue to represent the original deposits. Special properties like production of metabolites, degradation of specific compounds are not normally checked. Relevant information about the strains held in the MTCC are computerized for easy search analysis and retrieval.

The MTCC scientists are actively engaged in research programmes on microbial diversity, taxonomy and related areas and have so far described about 100 novel microbial taxa, including bacteria, actinomycetes and yeasts.

The main objectives of MTCC are as follows:

  • ex-situ conservation of microbial resources of India
  • to provide authentic microbial cultures to industries as well as academic and research institutes
  • to provide identification, freeze drying and other microbiology related services
  • to act as a depository of patent cultures, and
  • to take up research activities on microbial diversity, taxonomy, phylogeny and related areas in microbiology.

 

MTCC has been helping Indian scientific community in ex situ conservation of microbial diversity by preserving microbial cultures under general, safe and patent deposits. This also helps in exploitation of Indian microbial diversity by Indian researchers. MTCC is the designated national repository of the NBA to accept the deposit of microbial cultures of Indian origin and designated IDA of the country for patent deposits under Budapest Treaty. Accordingly, it is mandatory to deposit the microbial cultures in MTCC before filing any patent involving the microorganisms originating from India.

Research programs on microbial diversity and Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) projects are expected to improve our knowledge on microbial diversity and taxonomy in India. Addition of new microbial cultures to MTCC collections offers new opportunities to study their biotechnological potentials by future generations. The WGS of microbial type strains of Indian origin and interesting phylogenetic lineages is expected to benefit the field of microbial systematics. The proactive customer-friendly measures and new facilities are expected to enhance MTCC’s abilities to serve its customers and the research community in a better way.