The Belgian Coordinated Collections of Microorganisms (BCCM) is a unique initiative of the Belgian Federal Government and has been coordinated since 1983 by the Belgian Science Policy Office. BCCM is the Belgian Biological Resources Centre (BRC), a permanent structure supporting the life sciences and biotechnology sector. Currently, BCCM is a consortium of seven public microbiological collections under the coordination of a Central Coordination Cell (bccm.belspo.be). The major aims are to preserve microbial diversity, to share experience with microbial cultures and management, to give access to strain information and catalogue, to increase the understanding of microorganisms and their function in ecosystems, and to enhance the visibility and cooperation at the international level.
The study and valorisation of the biological resources need to stay up to date with current developments in microbiology, the most important being the determination of whole genome sequences. The overall objective of the project BCCM GEN-ERA is two-fold: (1) to answer specific research questions covering the microbial diversity of the BCCM collections (i.e., bacteria, mycobacteria, cyanobacteria, yeasts and moulds); (2) to implement the genomic expertise in the BCCM collections. This latter objective is essential to maintain BCCM as a major BRC for future national and international collaborations, to further characterize its strains and to answer upcoming research questions.