BCCM/IHEM is a fungal culture collection specialising in medical and veterinary isolates. We have almost 15000 isolates available from all over the world: yeasts and filamentous fungi, pathogens and allergenic or toxic species, reference strains and teaching material.
In 1982, under the auspices of the Belgian Ministry of Public Health, a culture collection of medically interesting fungal strains was founded within the Mycology Laboratory of the Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology (IHE), located in Brussels. The collection was named IHEM and was in 1983 one of the founding partners of the Belgian Coordinated Collections of Microorganisms (BCCM). The first catalogue of IHEM was published in 1985 with 660 strains. The collection acquired in 1992 the status of International Depository Authority (IDA) for patent deposits under the Budapest Treaty. Though the culture collection kept its acronym BCCM/IHEM, the host institute IHE evolved to become the Scientific Institute of Public Health (WIV-ISP). The host lab became the Section of Mycology and Aerobiology and consists of three programs:
- the BCCM/IHEM collection of biomedical fungi and yeasts
- the Medical Mycology program
- the Aerobiology program
Scope of the biological material
The BCCM/IHEM public collection has grown to almost 15000 strains. Its diversity is represented by more than 350 genera and more than 1200 species of Ascomycetes, Basidiomycetes and Zygomycetes. The majority are human and animal pathogens, allergenic strains or mycotoxin producing species, isolated from clinical cases or from the patient’s environment.
Important sub-collections gathered in the frame of various epidemiological studies are available such as Aspergillus fumigatus, Candida spp. isolated from human invasive mycoses, dermatophytes, Scedosporium spp., Cryptococcus spp.…
The BCCM/IHEM-collection has incorporated the entire collection of Raymond Vanbreuseghem (RV-collection) which was formerly housed at the Institute of Tropical Medicine (Antwerp) and includes numerous rare isolates from tropical regions.
Another interesting addition was the fungal collection from Janssen Pharmaceutica, which is currently being integrated in the public BCCM/IHEM collection.
Besides its ISO 9001 certification, the BCCM/IHEM collection is also ISO 17025 accredited for its quality controls, namely the verification of the viability, identity and purity of its strains after preservation. A sample of each batch is analysed after freeze-drying or cryopreservation in order to assess these parameters.
The collection is also ISO 14001 certified for its environmental policy. This certification involves that the collection is committed to a sustainable management of its activities. The latter includes waste reduction, energy saving, the compliance with and follow-up of the regulation, the analysis, surveillance and reduction of its environmental impact.
Deposit of strains for public access
The BCCM/IHEM collection of biomedical fungi and yeasts makes strains publicly available for medical, pharmaceutical and biological research, as well as for method validation, testing or educational purposes.
Deposits of strains for public access are without costs for the depositor.
More information on how to deposit your material can be found here.
Distribution of strains and DNA extracts
The BCCM/IHEM collection serves as a resource of biological material for medical, pharmaceutical and biological research, as well as for method validation, testing or educational purposes.
Accession, control, preservation, storage and supply of fungi and related information are ISO 9001:2008 certified. The control of viability, identity and purity on the batches for release, are performed according to the ISO 17025 standard.
Strains of the public collection (or their DNA extracts) are provided under the conditions of the BCCM Material Transfer Agreement (MTA), if necessary amended with additional conditions possibly already attached to the biological material. For more information on ordering microbial resources click here.
BCCM/IHEM also provides services aimed at strain characterisation and identification (conventional methods, sequence based, MALDI-TOF MS), testing the sensitivity to antifungal drugs or facilitating long-term preservation of strains (safe and patent deposits, freeze-drying, etc.). Specific research needs can be discussed, so feel free to contact us with your suggestions.