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. All fungi related to environment, agriculture, industry or food are maintained by BCCM/MUCL.
In 1980, a culture collection of medically interesting fungal strains was initiated within the Mycology Laboratory of the Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology (IHE), located in Brussels. Its detailed history can be found here. 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 9001:2015 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.