News from WFCC


The Philippine Network of Microbial Culture Collection (PNMCC)

Rosario G. Monsalud

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 ( 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 (

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 collection-related matters;
•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 (

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  

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.