Culture collection (NAIMCC)


Microorganisms are remarkably diverse organisms and they live in habitats throughout the world such as in fresh and salt water, on land, on air and on or inside other organisms. These organisms can even survive in extreme locations like hot springs in comparison with plant and animals resources, Microbial resources neglected in term of consideration of conservation, exploitation and utilization resources. In India, till now very limited efforts were made for tapping the microbial diversity of Agriculturally Important Microorganisms (AIMs) and their preservation for different applications in agriculture and allied sectors. After realizing the importance of microbial diversity in India, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) established the National Bureau of Agriculturally Important Microorganisms (NBAIM) for collection, maintenance, conservation and supply of microorganisms all over the country in the year 2001 at old NBPGR Building, Pusa Campus, New Delhi. The Bureau was later shifted to Mau Nath Bhanjan, Uttar Pradesh on 1st June, 2004. A landmark development of NBAIM was the establishment of NAIMCC (National Agriculturally Important Microbial Culture Collection) in the year 2004 and it consists of storage facility of 10000 AIMs.

 Biodiversity Authority of India has recognized NBAIM culture collection (NAIMCC) as one of National Repositories of India. NBAIM offers the facility for registration of elite microbial germplasm to facilitate the exchange of such germplasm among different national institutes/organizations under MoU for further research and commercialization. World Federation for Culture Collections (WFCC) has developed an international database named as “World Data Center for Microorganisms (WDCM)”, The NAIMCC has been registered as ( and follows the guidelines and principles as an affiliate members of WFCC laid by the WFCC.

Various types of AIMs comprising of fungi, bacteria, actinomycetes and cyanobacteria are being preserved at NAIMCC. Since cyanobacteria are photosynthetic organisms, they are being maintained in a dedicated growth chamber required growth conditions. NAIMCC has state-of-art facilities for the maintenance, conservation and characterization of microorganisms. AIMs are conserved and maintained by at least two methods depending on type of microorganisms, i.e. short term preservation through storage at 4ºC as mineral oil stocks (5 years), long term storage through lyophilization (10 years) at 10-15ºC and glycerol stock at -80ºC. At present NAIMCC have more than 5000 microbial cultures (Fig.1).

Annual increment of microbial cultures holding in NAIMCC has been depicted in Fig.2. In recent past, 580 new microbial cultures have been added to NAIMCC in between 2012 and 2014. Bright field microscope, epi- and trans- fluorescent microscope, confocal laser microscope, scanning electron microscope (SEM), cold room, deep freezer (-80ºC), growth chamber for cyanobacteria, commercial scale lyophilizer, liquid nitrogen generator, step down temperature gradient system, GC-coupled MIDI for FAMEs profiling, Sanger sequencer, PCR units, Pyrosequencer, Biolog unit, etc. are some of the facilities that are available for culturing, characterization and preservation of microorganisms in NAIMCC.

Fig.1: Number of accessioned microbial cultures (5028) at NAIMCC

Fig.2: Annual increment in number of microbial cultures in NAIMCC over period of time

Most of the cultures of the NAIMCC have been digitized using a software, Microbial Culture Collection Database (MCCD) by the Bureau to enlist the characteristics of AIMs in terms of origin, ecology, morphology, physiology and biochemical parameters, pathogenic or non-pathogenic nature for easy retrieval of information about the microbial cultures. This software has been developed for rapid searches and also provides an interactive interface between database and the user (Fig. 3). Molecular tools are also being used for the characterization of AIMs. There is an inbuilt provision to include a variety of data related to isolates that can be accommodated in the passport data sheet such as geographical location of isolation, name of the donor (person or institute) or depositor, forms of preservation, etc.

 Fig. 3: Home page view of MCCD software

On 1st January, 2013 NBAIM Culture Storage Facility has been set up in NBPGR, New Delhi, for keeping the duplicate set of microbial cultures in the form of lyophilized ampoules and glycerol stocks (Fig.4). The aim of this unit is to safeguard the microbial gene pool from unforeseen natural calamities. The important equipments and apparatus are housed in the unit to carry out preservation work. Cryopreservation of microorganisms has been initiated at NBPGR using a step down temperature gradient system and liquid nitrogen.

Fig. 4: NBAIM culture storage facility inaugurated by Dr. S. Ayyappan, DG, ICAR & Secretary, DARE at NBPGR, New Delhi

Recently, Microbial Genetic Resource (MGR) Portal ( has been launched by NBAIM. It has a user friendly database search options available in portal where scientists, researchers and other users can have access to the information on microbial cultures available at NAIMCC. The information on microbial germplasm accessions available through MGR portal has been collated from scientists and researchers of different organizations of NARS system and especially NBAIM since the inception of NAIMCC. In the past, two catalogues were published in 2009 and 2011 by the NBAIM, Mau with total holdings of 3842 in 2011. Since then the number of accessioned microorganisms has now reached 5028 including fungi (3137), bacteria and actinomycetes (1766) and cyanobacteria (125) and detailed information has been brought out as a ‘Catalogue of Microbial Cultures: Supplement-2014’.