UMKC Fungal Genetics Stock Center awarded $500,000 National Science Foundation grant

UMKC Fungal Genetics Stock CenterThe Fungal Genetics Stock Center at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Biological Sciences has been awarded a grant of nearly $500,000 by the National Science Foundation to establish the United States Culture Collection Network. The goal of the network is to bring together scientists working with laboratory-based collections of microbes across the nation. Along with the fungal collection housed at UMKC, this network would include collections of bacteria, yeast, algae and other environmental and plant-associated microbes.

“While there are several world-class professional collections in the U.S., like the collection we house here at UMKC, most collections in the U.S. are small and do not have long-term strategies for survival,” said Kevin McCluskey, Ph.D., Research Professor, curator of the fungal center and principal investigator for the NSF grant. “The network supported by this grant will ensure that smaller collections benefit from expertise available at larger living microbe collections.”

Along with UMKC’s fungal center, other notable collections represented in the network include the Pfaff Yeast Collection at the University of California-Davis and the National Marine Phytoplankton Collection at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in Maine. Joining Professor McCluskey are co-principal investigators A. Rick Bennett, Head, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Arkansas, and Seogchan Kang of the Department of Plant Pathology, Pennsylvania State University.

The United States Culture Collection Network will hold numerous workshops teaching best practices for managing, preserving, and distributing bacteria, fungi, and other microscopic organisms in the context of formal culture collections. Biosecurity and regulatory issues will also be emphasized at workshops. Additional goals of the network include re-establishing a professional society of culture collection researchers in the U.S., developing internet based collection management tools, and fostering communication between U.S. collections, foreign collections, and international collection networks.

“Collections of living microbes assure that current, as well as past, research and innovation are available to future generations of scientists,” said McCluskey, who also serves on the Executive Board of the World Federation for Culture Collections. “Biological materials which are made available via well-managed collections represent the foundation of the modern biotechnology industry.”

Materials in culture collections impact fields as diverse as human health, agricultural productivity, biotechnology, and bio-diversity research.

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