BCCM/IHEM is a fungal culture collection specialising in medical and veterinary isolates. We have almost 15000 isolates available from all over the world: yeasts and filamentous fungi, pathogens and allergenic or toxic species, reference strains and teaching material.
In 1982, under the auspices of the Belgian Ministry of Public Health, a culture collection of medically interesting fungal strains was founded within the Mycology Laboratory of the Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology (IHE), located in Brussels. The collection was named IHEM and was in 1983 one of the founding partners of the Belgian Coordinated Collections of Microorganisms (BCCM). The first catalogue of IHEM was published in 1985 with 660 strains. The collection acquired in 1992 the status of International Depository Authority (IDA) for patent deposits under the Budapest Treaty. Though the culture collection kept its acronym BCCM/IHEM, the host institute IHE evolved to become Sciensano. The host lab became the Section of Mycology and Aerobiology and consists of four units:
- the BCCM/IHEM fungi collection: human & animal health
- the Medical Mycology unit
- the Aerobiology unit
- the Indoor Mycology unit
Scope of the biological material
BCCM/IHEM is a collection of yeasts and moulds of medical and veterinary interest. It gathers almost 15000 strains representing more than 350 genera and 1200 species of Ascomycetes, Basidiomycetes and Zygomycetes. The majority are human and animal pathogens, allergenic strains, mycotoxin producing species or various contaminants, isolated from clinical cases or from the human environment in general.
More specifically, fungal strains of the BCCM/IHEM collection are:
- Species known to cause diseases and isolated from human or animal patients or their environment
- New species described in the literature and presenting (potential) health risks
- Pathogens reported in case studies
- Known or probable allergenic strains isolated from the indoor and outdoor human environments
- Strains displaying exceptional characteristics (e.g. aberrant morphology, resistance towards antifungal drugs)
- Species producing mycotoxins (notably in food and indoor environments)
- Contaminants of the human and animal environment (e.g. from food, end products, indoor facilities, materials)
The BCCM/IHEM collection accepts pathogens up to the class of risk 3.
The BCCM/IHEM collection has incorporated the entire collection of Raymond Vanbreuseghem (RV-collection) which was formerly housed at the Institute of Tropical Medicine (Antwerp) and includes numerous rare isolates from tropical regions.
Another interesting addition was the fungal collection from Janssen Pharmaceutica which has been integrated in the public BCCM/IHEM collection.
Besides its ISO 9001 certification, the BCCM/IHEM collection is also ISO 17025 accredited for its quality controls, namely the verification of the viability, identity and purity of its strains after preservation. A sample of each batch is analysed after freeze-drying or cryopreservation in order to assess these parameters.
The collection is also ISO 14001 certified for its environmental policy. This certification involves that the collection is committed to a sustainable management of its activities. The latter includes waste reduction, energy saving, the compliance with and follow-up of the regulation, the analysis, surveillance and reduction of its environmental impact.
Deposit of strains for public access
The BCCM/IHEM collection makes strains publicly available for medical, pharmaceutical and biological research, as well as for method validation, testing or educational purposes.
Deposits of strains for public access are without costs for the depositor.
More information on how to deposit your material can be found here.
Distribution of strains and DNA extracts
The BCCM/IHEM collection serves as a resource of biological material for medical, pharmaceutical and biological research, as well as for method validation, testing or educational purposes.
Accession, control, preservation, storage and supply of fungi and related information are ISO 9001:2015 certified. The control of viability, identity and purity on the batches for release, are performed according to the ISO 17025 standard.
Strains of the public collection (or their DNA extracts) are provided under the conditions of the BCCM Material Transfer Agreement (MTA), if necessary amended with additional conditions possibly already attached to the biological material. For more information on ordering microbial resources click here.
BCCM/IHEM proposes a panel of analyses for the identification, typing, characterization and antifungal susceptibility testing of fungal strains. For more information on our analyses service, click here
Courses & trainings
BCCM/IHEM proposes various courses and trainings related to mycology such as:
- “Fungi of the human environment”
- “Fungi from the veterinary practice”
- “Identification of fungi using MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry”
- “Laboratory practice in mycology”
We also welcome custom request for any specific training that would suit your needs. For more information on our courses and workshops, click here
Collaboration & consultancy