Microbial colonies on the plate
Photo: Riho Teras
Microbial colonies on the plate
Photo: Riho Teras

Microbial Collection

Collection of environmental and laboratory microbial strains 

The collection of non-medical environmental and laboratory microbial strains, CELMS (Collection of Environmental and Laboratory Microbial Strains), situated at the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Tartu was founded in 1995.

Since 2008 the collection is registered at World Federation of Culture Collections - World Data Centre for Microorganisms (WFCC-MIRCEN) under the registry number 926. CELMS is also a member of European Culture Collections’ Organisation (ECCO).
Collection CELMS is in primary specializing non-pathogenic bacteria from a variety of environmental habitats such as polluted areas with strong oil shale mining and chemical industry impact, from different regions of the Baltic Sea, river Emajõgi, birch sap, maple sap, etc. CELMS includes a wide range of type cultures and strains of academic interest, both in the sense of scientific and educational purposes. Different microbiological and molecular biology methods have been used for the characterization of the deposited strains. Due to our main research activities the collection contains several bacterial strains able to degrade different aromatic and/or aliphatic hydrocarbons.

The majority of the collection is stored at -80°C.

The collection of strains started with a practical need – for practical works in the university it was necessary to clean and isolate microbial strains and also to maintain the strains in the situation of constant lack of resources. Storage was very different compared to present possibilities where the collection is stored in freezers at -80 degrees. In the early years of collection, we stored insulated samples in small blocks and they were constantly renewed.  

Ain Heinaru, Professor emeritus, initiator of the collection

Microbial strains are dispatched according to recommendations of ECCO by using the Material Transfer Agreement (MTA). Application of CELMS strains in scientific purposes is free of charge.
Catalogue of the collection is available in the Estonian Electronic Microbial dataBase (EEMB). 

The collection is financed by the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research.

Microbial life is a wonderfully diverse and valuable research material as a national collection

Ain Heinaru, Professor emeritus, initiator of the collection

Photos about collecting the collection of microbial strains

At the gallery below there are some photos describing the collection of the probes. In the first part of the gallery the photos describe collecting microbiological probes in the North-Eastern part of Estonia from waters with a strong phenol load, from the the foothills of the semi-coke mountains (2004, photos by Merike Jõesaar) and in the second part, water probes are collected from the sailing ship Admiral Bellingshausen from the coastal waters of Brazil (2019, photos by Sulev Kuuse).

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