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The Philippine Network of Microbial Culture Collection (PNMCC)
On last November 13, 2010, the Philippine Network of Microbial Culture Col ection (PNMCC) conducted its 10th Annual Symposium and General Assembly with the theme.Linking Microbial Systematics with Biotechnology.. Four plenary lectures, research poster papers, product exhibits of microbial ID kits and diagnostics, and the PNMCC Inc. business meeting were the highlights of the event. This was attended by 137 participants from the academia, research institutions and private companies. Fifteen new members were sworn-in bringing the total individual membership to 229.
Since 2001, the PNMCC organized annual symposia
and workshops (Figure 1a,b,c,d) about conservation,
diversity, taxonomy, potential applications of microbial
resources, culture collection management and impact of
microbial resources on public health. Laws and policies
on biosafety and bioprospecting have also been tackled.
The PNMCC since then realized the need to disseminate significant information on microbial resources and to
develop and upgrade the technical capability of
educators and researchers who are current and potential users of microbial resources.
The Philippines is a country of 7,100 islands covering
297,179 km2 in Southeast Asia. Being part of the coral
triangle, its coral-reefs support among the highest levels
of marine biodiversity in the world. It also has one of the
most rugged rainforests in the world. It is said that the
archipelago was formed from a series of isolated
fragments some dating back 30-50 mil ion years. These
islands are part of the "Ring of Fire" of the Pacific Basin
having at least 17 volcanoes. The archipelago stretches
over 1,810 kilometres from north to south. The patchwork of isolated islands, the tropical location of the country, and the once extensive areas of rainforests have resulted in high species diversity in some groups of organisms and a very high level of endemism. The Philippines has among the highest rates of discovery in the world with sixteen new species of mammals
discovered in the last ten years This megadiversity country, however, is now one of the world’s most threatened biodiversity hotspots. Destructive fishing and sedimentation due to poor land management practices havedramatically affected its coral reefs (www.biodiversityhotspots.org/xp/hotspots/philippines/pa ges/biodiversity.aspx). Only less than 6% of its original forest cover remained intact and only roughly 5% of its ocean ecosystems are still pristine (www.conservation.org/explore/asia-pacific/philippines).
Along with habitat destruction, the country’s microbial diversity is likewise threatened, and they have barely been studied and untapped. Relatively, only a handful of micro-bioprospecting projects have been carried out by a few researchers and students in some universities.
The significant projects in the country were embarked by
the National Institute of MolecularBiology &
Biotechnology (BIOTECH) at the University of the
Philippines Los Banos in the 80’s searching for
microorganisms with high nitrogen-fixing ability for
agriculture, and yeast strains for biofuel production in answer to a national crisis. Then, from 2003-2006, the Philippine National Collection of Microorganisms (PNCM) took on isolation and preservationof microorganisms from different mangrove areas and screening them for various enzymes and antimicrobials adding ~1500 strains in the collection. A more recent project is that of the Marine Science Institute at the University of the Philippines Diliman campus where some 2,000 marine microbes associated with sponges were isolated under its PharmaSeas Project with the University of Utah for the discovery of anti-cancer and anti-malarial marine natural products.
Fig 1: PNMCC organized annual symposia and workshops
The reality described above is what prompted the
PNMCC to conduct symposia and workshops to spread
the importance of conserving our bioresources so that
more people will embark on this important and
immediate task. Microbiology is a recent field of study in
the Philippines. Microbiology as a course was offered at
UPLB only in the mid 70’s and even much later in three
other universities. Hence the need to disseminate significant information on microbial resources and develop/upgrade the technical capability of educators and researchers.
The PNMCC was established in 1996 as a project of the PNCM. It aims to:
Provide a permanent secretariat for all Philippine
Culture Collections and a central contact point
for Philippine scientists and any institutions
seeking adviceand information on
microbiological materials andon culture
•Establish an effective liaison between persons andorganizations concernedwithculture collections and among the users of the cultures;
•Collect information on the strains and services offered by the various culture collections;
•Publicize the resources within the culture collections in terms of materials and scientific expertise by preparing printed and visual materials for distribution as well as producing informativeliterature formal scientifically and industrial y oriented publications;
•Encourage the study of procedures for the isolation, culture, characterization, conservation, and distribution of microorganisms and to make known the most recommendable methods which will take the form of training;
•Promote the training of personnel for the operation of culture collections, and to promote the establishment of a national data service concerned with the location of and information about microorganisms maintained in culture collections; and Publish a Philippine Directory of Culture Collections.
Membership to the PNMCC is open to any individual with a declared interest in culture collections (regular member), culture collections regardless of size and geographical location (affiliate member) represented by the curator, and to individuals or organizations who espouse the cause of the Network (sustaining member). No restriction is placed on the number of members from one region or institution. There are now 8 affiliate culture collections of the PNMCC. Although there were 44 culture collections in the country in the survey conducted in 2005 (Figure 2), most of them are project based thus sustainability is a big question.
Some of the culture holdings of five affiliate culture collections of the PNMCC can now be accessed at the Asian Biological Resource Center Network website (www.abrcn.net).
Figure 2: Culture Collections in the Philippines
PNMCC Affiliate Member Culture Collections
1. Philippine National Collection of Microorganisms(PNMCC Headquarters)
Acronym of the collection: BIOTECH Host Institute: National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (BIOTECH)
Address: University of the Philippines Los Baños, College, Laguna 4031, Philippines Head Curator: Rosario G. Monsalud, Ph.D.
2. Microbial Culture Collection-Museum of Natural History
Acronym of the collection: MCC-MNH Host institute: Museum of Natural History (MNH)
Address: Upper Forestry Campus, University of the Philippines Los Baños, College, Laguna 4031, Philippines Head Curator: Dr. Marian A. Pulido-de Leon, Ph.D.
3. UP Natural Sciences Research Institute Culture Collection
Acronym of the collection: UPCC
Host Institute: Natural Sciences Research Institute, University of the Philippines Diliman
Address: Quirino cor. Velasquez Sts., Diliman, Quezon City 1101, Philippines
Head Curator: Ma. Auxilia T. Siringan, Ph.D.
4. Industrial Technology Development Institute Microbial Culture Collection
Acronym of the collection: ITDI - MCC
Host institute: Industrial Technology Development Institute
Address: Industrial Technology Development Institute Environment and Biotechnology Division, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) DOST Compound, Gen. Santos Avenue Bicutan, Taguig City 1632,
Metro Manila, Philippines Head Curator: Elena L. Bril ante, MS
Email: el email@example.com
5. Ecosystem Research and Development Bureau Endomycorrhizal Germplasm Bank and Culture Collection
Acronym of the Col ection: ERDB
Host Institute: Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau
Address: College of Forestry campus, U.P. Los Banos, College, Laguna 4031, Philippines Head Curator: Evangeline T. Castil o, Ph.D.
6. Research Center for the Natural Sciences- Collection of Microbial Strains
Acronym of the Col ection: UST-CMS
Host Institute: Research Center for the Natural Sciences, University of Santo Tomas
Address: España, Manila 1015, Philippines Head Curator: Thomas Edison Dela Cruz, Ph.D.
7. United Laboratories Clinical Culture Collection
Acronym of the Col ection: UL Host Institute: United Laboratories, Inc.
Address: 66 United St., Mandaluyong City 1501, Philippines
Head Curator: Leila M. Florento, Ph.D.
8. Dela Salle University Culture Collection Acronym of the Collection: DLSU
Host Institute: Dela Sal e University
Address: Taft Avenue, Manila 1015, Philippines Head Curator: Esperanza C. Cabrera, Ph.D.