BCCM/ITM Mycobacteria Collection


BCCM/ITM has been operational since the 1st of February 2011, and harbours one the largest and most diverse collections of well-documented mycobacteria worldwide, including the TDR-TB Strain bank.


BCCM/ITM is hosted by and sharing its research interests with the Mycobacteriology Unit at the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, dedicated in research to combat tuberculosis, leprosy, Buruli ulcer and other mycobacterial diseases. Research activities benefit from the leading role of the unit as Supranational Reference Laboratory for tuberculosis, providing technical assistance and services to clinical laboratories at national and international level.

Building on the strong expertise in multiple areas of mycobacteriology, the unit has initiated new approaches to better understand:

  • Mechanisms underlying resistance to old (rifampicin, isoniazid) and newer (fluoroquinolones, bedaquiline) drugs
  • Transmission dynamics of M. tuberculosis and M. leprae
  • Phylogeography of M. tuberculosis complex
  • Phenotypic and genotypic differences among members of the M. tuberculosis complex
  • Phylogeny of non-tuberculous mycobacteria
  • Optimization of biosafety containment around working with resistant M. tuberculosis.


History of the collection


Scope of the biological material

BCCM/ITM is a collection of well documented mycobacteria, characterized by phenotypic and/or genotypic tests. It comprises strains from human, animal and environmental origin from all continents spanning from 1960 to date, covering more than 90 mycobacterial species.

While having an emphasis on (drug-resistant) M. tuberculosis complex, all mycobacterial species can be deposited in the BCCM/ITM collection.

BCCM/ITM greatly welcomes deposits of Type strains for newly described species, and accepts pathogens up to risk class 3.

Major publicly available sub-collections include (but are not limited to):

  • M. tuberculosis clinical isolates from the WHO TDR-TB Strain Bank (Vincent et al., 2012).
  • The ‘clinical reference set’ of M. tuberculosis strains comprising lineages 1 to 7 (L1-L7) (Borell et al., 2019)
  • The M. tuberculosis Lineage 8 strain, the only known viable isolate worldwide (Ngabonziza et al., 2020)
  • In vitro-selected drug-resistant M. tuberculosis strains (clofazimine, bedaquiline, linezolid, fluoroquinolones, second-line injectables, ….)
  • M. tuberculosis complex strains from animal origin (M. bovis, M. orygis, M. pinipedii, M. caprae, M. microti, …)
  • Type strains from non-tuberculous mycobacteria (e.g. Fedrizzi et al., 2017)
  • > 4200 Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBc) clinical isolates from the STREAM Stage 1 and Stage 2 clinical trials (Nunn et al., 2019; Goodall et al. 2022). More information about the trials and associated clinical/outcomes data can be found at under Study ID TB-1019 (Stage 1) and TB-1032 (Stage 2). These clinical isolates
    • Have distinct BCCM/ITM numbers, i.e. ITM-6xxxxx 
    • Have new patient iD numbers to ensure the confidentiality of patient information. These new ID numbers correspond to those on on C-PATH at under Study ID TB-1019 (Stage 1) and TB-1032 (Stage 2) where further data on associated trial outcomes can be found.
    • Are preserved at -80°C (no freeze-dried ampules) and have no specific QC done
    • Have phenotypic and genotypic data available as derived from trial testing
    • May be subject to country-specific restrictions
  • Two large transposon insertion mutant libraries (96X96 wells) of M. bovis BCG


Mycobacterial species information

An overview of the current species names in the genus Mycobacterium can be consulted here (last update 12/12/2022). This overview includes the species names and supplementary info that can be useful for research purposes.

More detailed information on the clinical relevance of non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) can be consulted here (last update January 2020).



Accession, control, preservation, storage and supply of mycobacteria and related information in the frame of public deposits are ISO 9001:2015 certified. The control of viability, identity and mycobacterial purity on the batches for release, are performed according to the ISO 15189 standard (BELAC 147MED).


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