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BCCM/ULC Polar cyanobacteria Collection

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The BCCM/ULC public collection has just started in February 2011 and maintains so far 45 Antarctic cyanobacterial strains, assigned to 15 morphospecies. The public collection includes the type strain of the newly described species, Plectolyngbya hodgsonii (Taton et al., 2011, Polar Biology, 34: 181-191).

The collection is hosted by the Centre for Protein Engineering (the Unit) of the University of Liège.

The host Unit has one of the largest research collection of documented (sub)polar cyanobacteria worldwide, with more than 100 strains characterized by phenotypic (morphology based on microscopic observations) and genotypic (16S rRNA and ITS sequences (except the ITS of most heterocystous strains)) tests. The strains are unicyanobacterial, but not axenic. BCCM/ULC aims at incorporating the most interesting strains from the research collection of the host Unit into the BCCM/ULC public collection.


  • Deposit of strains for public access

    Before sending strains, it is advisable to contact BCCM/ULC to make sure that the material to be deposited is within its scope and technical capability. Upon deposit, the depositor must complete the corresponding BCCM/ULC Public deposit Accession Form. Deposit of strains for public access is without costs for the depositor.

  • Distribution of strains

    Strains of the public collection are accessible to the scientific community 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.
    Consult the BCCM/ULC catalogue to search the strains you require.

    Accession, control, preservation, storage and supply of cyanobacteria and related information in the frame of public deposits are ISO 9001:2008 certified.

Scientific context

BCCM/ULC is a recent public collection that is based on the research activities of the host Unit. The research collection includes 107 unicyanobacterial polar strains coming from different regions of Antarctica (South Victoria Land, Eastern Antarctica, Transantarctic Mountains) and the Arctic (Northern Canada, Arctic Ocean, Alaska), and different biotopes (microbial mats, lakes, ice shelves, dry valleys, endolithic habitats, ocean water). Moreover, 12 strains come from Siberian lakes in the Sub-Arctic. The three most important orders of cyanobacteria  (Chroococcales, Oscillatoriales, Nostocales) are represented. Moreover, the unit participates to several studies on the diversity of polar cyanobacteria (BELSPO projects AMBIO, ANTAR-IMPACT, BELDIVA and HOLANT, FRS-FNRS project BIPOLES) and new strains’ isolations are in progress. The origins of these new strains are the region of the new Belgian Antarctic Station 'Princess Elisabeth' and Schirmacher Oasis (Dronning Maud Land), Syowa Oasis (Eastern Antarctica) and Svalbard (Arctic). They will contribute to broaden the geographic and ecological coverage of the collection. The majority of the isolates is psychrotolerant and can be cultivated at 20°C. They are available as living cultures, and the majority (98) is also cryo-preserved (-70°C).

The unit also supports occasional trainings of colleagues from the world in molecular characterizations of strains and environmental samples, in the frame of ERASMUS or bilateral cooperation agreements, or scientific cooperations.
Main research topics are:
  • Evolution of the cyanobacterial phylum;

  • Improvement of the taxonomy of the cyanobacterial phylum;

  • Phenotypic and genotypic diversity of cyanobacteria in the world;

  • Diversity of cyanobacteria in (sub)polar regions;

  • Biogeography of cyanobacterial taxa;

  • Diversity of secondary metabolites in cyanobacteria;

  • Diversity and toxigenicity of bloom-forming cyanobacteria in Belgian lakes;

  • Genome sequence of Arthrospira PCC 8005

Organisation chart

Further information & contact

Promoter: Dr Annick Wilmotte

BRC Manager: Dr Annick Wilmotte

Curator: Dr Dr Annick Wilmotte

Quality Responsibles: Olivier Detongre & Véronique Simons


Dr Annick Wilmotte or Marine Renard
Centre for Protein Engineering
Institute of Chemistry B6
Sart Tilman
University of Liège
B-4000 Liège (map & directions)
Phone: +32-(0)4-366 33 87 or +32-(0)4-366 38 56
Fax: +32-(0)4-366 33 64

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