Fera Logo   National Collection of Plant Pathogenic Bacteria National Collection Of Plant Pathogenic Bacteria

HISTORY    Return to top
In 1947 it was decided that the National Collection of Type Cultures, then being maintained at the Lister Institute, should shed its responsibility for cultures which were not of direct interest to the medical sciences. As a consequence of this decision the bacterial plant pathogens were combined with a collection which Dr W J Dowson was already maintaining at the Botany School, Cambridge, and the whole collection was maintained by him on behalf of the Agricultural Research Council until his retirement in 1956.
This collection, then some 200 cultures, was moved to the Plant Pathology Laboratory of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) at Harpenden in June 1956, and in that year was recognised as a National Collection by the UK National Committee of the Commonwealth Collections of Micro-organisms. In 1988, the Plant Pathology Laboratory, now the Harpenden Laboratory, was incorporated along with other government departments, into the Central Science Laboratory (CSL), an executive agency of MAFF.
After a national review of the UK culture collections in 1996, the 'United Kingdom National Culture Collection' (UKNCC) was formed with the NCPPB a part of it. Also in that year the NCPPB with some 3,500 strains, moved to the purpose built Central Science laboratory just outside York, UK. The collection is owned and funded by DEFRA under the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
In 2002 MAFF became the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) where the NCPPB still continues its primary role of providing scientific support to the Plant Health Service.
In April 2009, CSL along with Plant Health Division, Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate, Plant Variety Rights Office and Seeds Division, and the Government Decontamination Service, Merged to form a new agency - The Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera). The NCPPB is still part of the UKNCC and is still located at the Laboratory now occupied by Fera.
AIMS    Return to top
The Collection exists primarily to preserve and maintain, for use by research and educational establishments and by industry, cultures of the world's bacterial plant pathogens and the bacteria closely associated with them. It is intended that sufficient cultures shall be kept of each species to be representative of its geographic and host range, and of the variation within it. Bacteriophages useful for the determination of bacterial pathogens, for the diagnosis of the bacterial diseases they cause and potential biocontrol organisms are also maintained. A few mutant bacterial cultures especially with useful epidemiological attributes are also maintained.
In the long term it is hoped to confirm the identities of all cultures in the Collection and determine their virulence. Much of this checking is being done by the Staff maintaining the Collection but they have received invaluable help from scientists with specialised knowledge of particular pathogens or who have studied cultures from the Collection in the course of taxonomic research. Tests for virulence to hosts that can be grown easily in England are made in the glasshouses or quarantine houses at Fera, York, but tests on tropical plants are more often made by those with better facilities for their growth.
Routinely, the generic and any easily determinable specific characters, such as fatty acid profiling, of all cultures as well as their purity are verified when they are added to the Collection and again after each batch of lyophilized ampoules is prepared.