Around the world in 80 strains- a cheeseboard in France

We are travelling around the world in 80 strains from our culture collection – following in the route of Phileas Fogg in the novel “Around the World in 80 Days”.

Stop 4: We have left the beach in France and are looking for something tasty to eat – what trip would be compete without sampling some French cheeses? And we’ve found three strains that can tell us a little bit more about the history of our culture collection, and equivalency between major culture collections.

NCIMB 14259 Arthrobacter bergerei is a type strain that was isolated from Camembert cheese and added to the NCIMB collection by Collection Institut Pasteur (CIP).

NCIMB 13430 Brachybacterium tyrofermentans and NCIMB 13431 Brachybacterium alimentarium are both type strains isolated from Comte cheese and deposited by INRA – the French National Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment.

Historically, our culture collection was created from the merger of three smaller collections – the National Collection of Industrial Bacteria (NCIB), the National Collection of Marine Bacteria, and the National Collection of Food Bacteria (formerly the national Collection of Dairy Organisms), so these strains are just three examples of many strains within the collection that have been isolated from cheeses around the world, or from other dairy products.

The strains are also a good illustration of how culture collections work together, sharing resources to offer “equivalents”, as all three are all listed as being equivalent to strains in the DSMZ and CIP collections in Germany and France. To learn more about equivalent strains in culture collections, read the blog by our culture collection curator, Dr Samantha Law.

Day 3: We finally left the pub in London and have arrived in France, heading straight to the beach! The “M” in NCIMB does stand for “marine” after all. A bit of beachcombing reveals our next three strains.

The marine environment is extremely diverse and consequently hosts an enormous diversity of microbial life, and our culture collection includes strains isolated from many different marine locations and substances – including seawater, the seabed, seaweed, crabs, fish and more! Some may cause disease in fish, others may degrade hydrocarbons, be environmentally important, or have been deposited because of their potential to produce interesting compounds.

NCIMB 12855 Lewinella cohaerens was isolated from beach sand at Biarritz and deposited by the
Scripps Institute of Oceanography in 1966.

NCIMB 1936 Pseudoalteromonas ruthenica was isolated from sediment in the littoral zone near Nice, France.

NCIMB 1937 Pseudoalteromonas sp was isolated from a crab shell near Nice, France.

Both of the Pseudoalteromonas strains were deposted by the Centre d’Etudes, de Recherches, de Biol. et d’Oceanog. Med

It has been reported that Pseudoalteromonas strains are usually associated with healthy animals or algae, and that the genus is of interest because of its prolific metabolite-producing capacity. A paper published in 2016 ( stated that the genus Pseudoalteromonas hosts 41 species, among which 16 are antimicrobial metabolite producers and that a total of 69 antimicrobial compounds had been documented.

Day 2

We should have set off by now, but we are still in the pub, where we found our next four strains!

NCIMB 6423 Acetobacter pasteurianus subsp. pasteurianus, NCIMB 6424 Acetobacter pasteurianus and NCIMB 6425 Acetobacter cerevisiae, were all isolated from brewers yeasts and beer, and deposited at NCIMB by our friends at NCTC, who were at that time located in London.

NCIMB 6428 Acetobacter pasteurianus, was isolated from a sample of bottled ale, produced in a London brewery and deposited in 1961, by NCTC. Our catalogue notes it to be a “beer disease” organism.

We have many acetic acid bacteria in our culture collection. You can read more about them, and their industrial relevance in yesterday’s blog below.

Day 1

We have travelled down to London from our laboratories in Aberdeen, and begin our journey with a hearty lunch to prepare us for the road ahead. Here we encounter our first two strains! There’s a choice of fish and chips with salt and vinegar or steak pie.

Bacteria are sometimes classified as “good” or “bad” but with acetic acid bacteria, its all about the context.

Acetic acid bacteria can cause spoilage in wines and beers, through their production of acetic acid, but of course acetic acid can also be a desirable product – making the vinegar for your chips or salad dressing. Acetic acid bacteria are also one of the groups of bacteria that are involved cocoa bean fermentation – an essential part of cocoa and chocolate manufacture. They are important in the production of kombucha and can be found in sourdough starter cultures.

Our catalogue states that NCIMB 2224 Acetobacter cerevisiae was deposited by the National Collection of Type Cultures (NCTC), which was at that time located in London. Our culture collection was established in 1950 to take over the non-pathogenic cultures held by NCTC, and it looks like this was one of the first strains we received. We continue to receive strains from other culture collections, highlighting how collections work together to ensure that their precious resources are available for future generations of scientists – and acetic acid bacteria may become increasingly important in future, as they have potential for a range of biotechnological applications. For example, acetic acid itself has a range of industrial applications, and species of Acetobacter have been studied with respect to the production of cellulose.

NCIMB 84 Aeromonas hydrophila subsp. hydrophila was isolated from a meat pie and deposited at NCIMB in 1958 by the Lister Institute, which at that time was located in Chelsea, London. Species from the genus Aeromonas are frequently found in foods, and strains of Aeromonas hydrophila have been associated with gastroenteritis. Hmm… I think I’ll go for the fish and chips.

For more information about the National Collection of Industrial, Food and Marine Bacteria, or the services we provide to support companies with their microbial products and processes, contact or search our culture collection catalogue here.