GREAT AT SMALL THINGS

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BCCM/MUCL Agro-food & Environmental Fungal Collection

 

BCCM/MUCL develops and preserves the collection of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and filamentous fungi and yeasts related to environment, agriculture, industry or food.  We also maintain all associated information, facilitate its valorization and provide services to third parties. All medical and veterinary fungi are maintained by BCCM/IHEM.

Embedding

BCCM/MUCL is embedded in the Laboratory of Mycology, which is part of the Earth and Life Institute (ELI), in particular the Pole of Applied Microbiology (ELIM) of the Université catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain).

Keystone elements in the history of the Mycothèque de l’Université catholique de Louvain since its foundation in 1894 by Prof. P. Biourge at the Brewery High School of the Catholic University of Leuven include the discovery of Griseofulvin in 1939, the recognition of the collection by the World Federation of Culture Collections in 1972, the recognition as an international deposit authority for the deposit of fungal material in the framework of the Budapest treaty in 1992 and the ISO 9001 certification in 2005.

BCCM/MUCL research is mainly focused on the areas:

  • Fungal diversity in natural and anthropological ecosystems
  • Agro-food: food and feed transformation and spoilage
  • Fungal-plant interactions

Activities typically performed at BCCM/MUCL are oriented towards the

  • Identification, taxonomy and classification
  • Phylogenetic sequence analyses for gene and species evolution
  • Detection and cultivation
  • Preservation

of different fungal groups (lignocellulolytic fungi, fungi involved in food processing and spoilage,  fermentative yeasts, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, fungal pathogens in tropical environments).

 

Scope of the biological material

  • Fungal diversity of environmental, agricultural, industrial, and food significance.
  • Type, reference, and test strains.
  • Strains for use in fermented foods; biocontrol, biopesticides, biofertilisers and bioremediation; edible mushrooms; production of primary and secondary metabolites (i.e. antibiotics, enzymes and polysaccharides), etc.
  • Not accepted: animal and human pathogens mentioned in the European Union Directive 2000/54/EC and its updates. Concerning medically relevant fungi, please refer to BCCM/IHEM.

 

The collection holds over 30,000 strains of filamentous and yeast-like fungi, representing more than 5000 species and 1400 genera.

The mycological herbarium contains about 40,000 specimen.

BCCM/MUCL houses the Penicillium collections of P. Biourge (founder of the collection in 1892) and G.L. Hennebert, as well as the UCL brewery yeast collection.

 

Quality

Accession, control, preservation, storage and supply of BCCM/MUCL collection material and related information in the frame of public deposits, safe deposits and patent deposits are ISO 9001:2015 certified.

 

Paving the way towards biotechnology and Bioeconomy in Ecuador: Oil polluted ecosystems as a model of microbial diversity and reservoir for bioremediation processes and bioeconomy

This five-year project is a continuation of a previous collaboration establishing biotechnology-oriented Microbial Resource Centres in Ecuador. Its global objective is to consolidate initiatives for the knowledge of the microbiome and its valorisation, through biotechnology, into knowledge-based bioeconomies. The need to transform the currently Ecuadorian, predominantly extractive economy towards an alternative model of knowledge-based bioeconomy, valuing the biodiversity potential, is strongly emphasized locally and regionally.

Ecuador is a biodiversity hotspot, which is a key resource for the development of bioeconomy. The local scientific, technical, economic, and legislative capacities are still weak, however, and this biodiversity, especially its microbial component, is little characterized. As well, the economic and legal conditions for the emergence of value chains developing and commercializing biotechnology applications on lines with the Nagoya Protocol are little developed. Altogether, this prevents the local scientists from understanding the potential value of this microbial diversity.

 

 

 

This new project is to reinforce the competences in microbial studies and development of microbe-based biotech from model (“pilots”) to services or product development, commercialized through local value chains. Specifically, the project will focus, through assessment and characterization of segments of the microbiome inhabiting weathered oil polluted ponds, on the development of innovative bioremediation / restauration processes of oil-polluted soils. Without anticipating on the results of a thorough socio-economic and environmental analysis, developing innovative services to cope with liabilities caused by oil industries will contribute to the development of Ecuadorian based value chain, meet a recurrent request of the Ecuadorian society and also contribute to the restoration of ecosystemic services. The PRD intends:

1.  To improve the understanding of the taxonomic and functional diversity of microbial communities of weathered oil polluted ponds;

2. To develop two laboratory scale pilots for microbe-based remediation and phytoremediation of oil polluted soil;

3. To develop a methodology for socio-economic and environmental spatialized impacts assessment and a database enabling the geo-digitalization of value chains of the local bioeconomy.

 

These will be done through 5 PhD Thesis:

  1. Taxonomy, ecology, and physiological properties of non-mycorrhizal, saprobic Fungi associated with plant debris in oil ponds and neighbouring Amazonian areas.
  2. Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi diversity and interactions with plants in weathered oil ponds and application into phytoremediation for vegetation restauration.
  3. Actinobacteria associated with oil ponds in the Ecuadorean Amazon forest: Unveiling their role in plant communities’ re-colonization and assessment of their potential as antibiotic producers
  4. Evaluation of the efficacy of bioremediation with the use of Ecuadorian microbiome applied to the local soil
  5. Conditions to support the development, stabilization and monitoring of the Ecuadorian bio-economy projects and value chains

 

Partnership

The consortium joins several teams in Belgium from the Université catholique de Louvain, including the BCCM/MUCL culture collection, and Université de Liège, and two universities in Ecuador, the Pontificia Universidad del Ecuador and the Universidad Tecnica Particular de Loja. The project is sponsored by ARES[1] through a five-year PRD (Project for Research and Development) program

 

Involvement

BCCM/MUCL will focus its activities on taxonomy, ecology, and physiology of non-mycorrhizal, saprobic Fungi associated with plant debris in oil ponds and neighbouring Amazonian areas, and on the study of AMF diversity and interactions with plants in weathered oil ponds and application into phytoremediation for vegetation restauration.

 

[1] Académie de Recherche et d’Enseignement Supérieur, Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles

A project by Uchrony