Reference Strains

The National Collection of Industrial, Food and Marine Bacteria includes thousands of references strains that are a valuable reference for identification, and have a wide range of potential industrial applications.

Some potential applications include:

  • Use as food production strains and starter cultures
  • Production of industrial enzymes
  • Production of new pharmaceuticals such as antibiotics or anti-cancer drugs
  • Silage starter cultures
  • Bioremediation and water treatment

All NCIMB reference strains are supplied under the terms of our Material Transfer Agreement (MTA), which allows scientists greater flexibility in their responsible use. For more information please download our MTA using the link on the right hand side of this page.

You can contact us to enquire about availability of specific strains, or search the NCIMB catalogue on this website.

The catalogue gives details of the colony and cellular morphology you can expect from the strain as well as information on growth requirements, metabolite production, the environment from which the strain was isolated, equivalency and references, where available.


Most bacterial cultures are supplied freeze-dried in sealed glass ampoules, but they can also be supplied as active cultures if required.

Bacteriophages and plasmids

Bacteriophages and plasmids are supplied as thawed liquid suspensions in plastic vials.

Media recipes

We maintain a searchable database of media recipes, which includes media recipes for all the strains in our collection.  The media recipe search can be accessed via the link on this page.

Please note:

All cultures supplied by NCIMB are, to the best of our knowledge, free of background IP or ownership issues which prevent or restrict scientific research associated with those cultures. Should there be any pre-conditions attached to the release or use of an NCIMB culture outside those already stipulated in our standard Material Transfer Agreement (MTA), we will inform the purchaser in advance.

It is ultimately the responsibility of the end user to ensure that any development, commercial exploitation or use of cultures supplied does not infringe patent or other IP or ownership rights already granted, or have any obligations with regard to the country of origin as laid down in the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

For more information about NCIMB's CBD policy, please see our CBD information sheet.

Ordering and pricing

Most strains within the collection are available for immediate dispatch. Reference cultures can be ordered by email or via our online catalogue.

  • All orders must quote an official purchase order number and provide full delivery and invoicing addresses together with a contact telephone number and accounts' email address.
  • The VAT number of the organisation to be invoiced must be provided for all orders from EU countries.
  • VAT will be added to the invoice total for UK customers.
  • This information can be provided in an email, by downloading and completing our order form, or via our online catalogue search.
  • The vast majority of strains in the collection are available for immediate dispatch. We will endeavour to dispatch UK orders received before 14:00 hours by Special Delivery – Next Day mail the same afternoon.
  • Before ordering, please read our Material Transfer Agreement. Conditions of supply are governed by this agreement and all users of NCIMB cultures are bound by the terms contained therein.
  • Prepayment will be required for all new overseas customers.  We can accept payment by bank transfer, credit card (Visa and Mastercard - we do not accept American Express), or provide a URL secure link on request.
  • Invoices for EU countries are issued in both UK Pounds and Euros.


There are two bands of pricing for reference strains from the culture collection.

Prices from 1 Aug 2022 Band A reference strains Band B reference strains Bacteriophage
Ampoules and liquid nitrogen  vials from stock (without sub-culture) £130 £274 £261
Active cultures £260 £548 N/A

Postage and handling charges

ACDP Hazard Category UK Postage* Overseas Postage*#
1 £14.50 £58 (includes handling charge).  Orders dispatched by “Signed for International” mail.
2 £20.50 £160 (includes packing and administration fee)

*Up to10 items. For greater quantities, please contact us. Prices, postage and handling costs are subject to change without notice. #Transport of bacteria by airmail is prohibited to some countries; we ship ACDP category 2 strains by Fedex. If you wish to use a different courier we will charge an additional admin fee.  please contact us for more information.

Explanatory note on equivalency

There is some overlap in strain holdings between major culture collections, where the same strain has been deposited in multiple collections. Culture collections share this information where it is known, and most publish a list of "equivalents".

No culture collection can absolutely guarantee strain equivalency as errors occasionally happen and in a very few cases genetic drift may alter the properties of the strain between collections. However these are rare occurrences, and it is generally accepted that, for example, when a collection states that Pseudomonas aeruginosa NCIMB 8295 = NCTC 10332 = DSM 50071 = CECT 110 = CIP 63.52 these cultures will be indistinguishable from one another.

Please note that claims of "equivalency" by NCIMB do not make any claim upon the handling rights or ownership of that strain. Each culture collection has its own conditions of supply and/or MTA which may place restrictions or undertakings when using that strain. All culture collection users should take care to read those conditions when purchasing any organism from a culture collection.