The Polish Collection of Microorganisms was founded in 1967 as a laboratory of the Ludwik Hirszfeld Institute of Immunology and Experimental Therapy (IIET) of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Wrocław. This was based on the idea of the Microbiological Committee of the Polish Academy of Sciences, under the supervision of Prof. Stefan Ślopek, the director of the IIET at that time. At first, the collection was part of the Department of Microbial Taxonomy directed by Prof. Teofil Szulga, but was then included in the Department of Microbiology under the direction of Prof. Marian Mordarski. Dr. Stefan Rowiński was the curator of collection after 1977. At present, the PCM is in the Department of Immunology of Infectious Diseases, under the supervision of Dr. Andrzej Gamian.
On September 22, 1993, the Republic of Poland ratified the Budapest Treaty of April 28, 1977. In 2000, Prof. Andrzej Górski, director of the IIET, initiated the process of acquiring IDA status. The President of the Patent Office of the Republic of Poland, through the Minister of External Affairs, recommended the PCM to the Director General of the WIPO in accordance with the Budapest Treaty procedures. The PCM acquired the status of International Depositary Authority (IDA) of microorganisms from the WIPO for purposes of patent procedures.
Main goals and tasks
The collection serves to supply bacterial strains to institutions in Poland and abroad for research and educational purposes as well as for use as reference strains. Many strains are of practical importance and are used in the biotechnology industry. Other strains in the collection are used as reference strains in tests, such as for testing the activity of antibiotics, desinfectants, mutagenic substances, lysosyme, for testing of phagocytic activity, cholesterol, cytosine, uracyl, vitamins, and the binding of haptoglobin, as well as strains which produce antibiotics, enzymes, protein A, ethanol, steroids, toxins, vitamins, and many others.
An important objective of the collection is to ensure optimal conditions for the storage of strains with regard to patent procedures. The Polish Collection of Microorganisms is an institution whose mission is to contribute to the development of science by supplying the microbiological material needed for biological and medical investigations.
The PCM serves the whole country, but also cooperates with other collections of microorganisms in Poland and around the world. The Polish Collection of Microorganisms is a member of the World Federation of Culture Collections (WFCC, registration No. 106) and of the European Culture Collections’ Organization (ECCO).
The basic activity of the PCM is the deposition, storage and distribution of bacteria and bacteriophages, which are used mainly for research purposes but also in industrial, educational, medical and therapeutic (bacteriophages) applications. Currently, the PCM has about 3000 bacterial strains and 300 bacteriophages. Bacteria belonging to 83 genera and 298 species of medical or general significance, and also patented strains.
The PCM is located at the Department of Immunology of Infectious Diseases, with a staff of 11 persons (10 scientists and technician), 250 m2 of laboratory space, and equipment which allows for standard microbiological manipulations, including freeze-dryers and rooms for storing the strains in freeze-dried and deep-frozen states.
The collection is steadily enhanced be exchange, purchase, and deposition of strains by researchers as common deposits of newly isolated and defined strains. The PCM has complete collections of serotypes of Escherichia, Hafnia, Citrobacter, Plesiomonas, Shigella, Salmonella, Staphylococcus, Streptomyces and other genera. Many strains are sent to research laboratories as well as clinical analytical and industrial laboratories yearly. We hope that the collection will serve many educational purposes on the university level, and at various laboratories and institutions at home and abroad.