The U.S.Culture Collection Network lays the foundation for progress in preservation of valuable microbial resources
The U. S. Culture Collection Network was formed in 2012 by a group of culture collection scientists and stakeholders in order to continue the progress established previously through efforts of an ad hock group. The network is supported by a Research Coordination Network grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and has the goals of promoting interaction among collections, encouraging the adoption of best practices, and protecting endangered or orphaned collections. After prior meetings to discuss best practices, shared data, and synergy with genome progrrams, the network held a meeting at the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation (NCGRP) in Fort Collins, Colorado in October 2015 specifically to discuss collections that are vulnerable because of changes in funding programs, or are at risk of loss because of retirement or lack of funding. The meeting allowed collection curators who had already backed up their resources at the USDA NCGRP to visitt the site, and brought collection owners, managers, and stakeholders together. Eight formal collections have established off-site backups with the USDA-ARS, ensuring that key material will be preserved for future research. All of the collections with backup at the NCGRP are public distributing collections including U.S. NSF-supported genetic stock centers, USDA-ARS collections, and university-supported collections. Facing the retirement of several pioneering researchers, the community discussed the value of preserving personal research collections and agreed that a mechanism to preserve these valuable collections was essenstial to any future national culture collection system. Additional input from curators of plant and animal collections emphasized that collections of every kind face similar challenges in developing long-range plans for sustainability.