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The International Centre of Microbial Resources (CIRM), yeast collection in Grignon. © INRA, MAITRE Christophe

Genetic and biological resources

Microbial resources

INRA groups its collections of yeast, filamentous fungi, human and animal pathogenic bacteria, and food- and plant-related bacteria into five sites which together make up the International Centre for Microbial Resources (CIRM). This biological resource centre (BRC) is dedicated to the conservation and enhancement of microbial biodiversity.

By Communications Department, translated by Inge Laino
Updated on 05/29/2018
Published on 06/13/2013

INRA’s collections of micro-organisms constitute an extremely valuable source of biological diversity. The Institute created the International Centre for Microbial Resources (CIRM) the better to organise and share this genetic heritage with the scientific community and related sectors.

CIRM stores over 22 000 strains in five sites and has many partners: AgroParisTech, the University of Aix-Marseille, Agrocampus Ouest, the University of Angers, and François Rabelais University in Tours.

Location of microbial BRCs managed by INRA. © INRA, INRA, Véronique Gavalda
Location of microbial BRCs managed by INRA © INRA, INRA, Véronique Gavalda

The CIRM Yeast site consists of traditional yeasts used in oenology, baking, brewing, cider-making, dairy technology and other fermentation-related industries as well as strains from diverse geographical regions (e.g. French Guiana, Arctic glaciers) that may be of interest in biotechnologies and useful for studying genetic diversity.

The CIRM Filamentous fungi site focuses on filamentous fungi of agro-industrial interest and with a view to putting them to use in bio-energies or green chemistry.

The CIRM Food bacteria site brings together some 100 species selected to offer the broadest possible diversity in terms of isolated biotopes and biotopes of specific geographic origins. The conserved species lend fermented products added value in organoleptic, probiotic and rheological terms. The goal is to preserve this natural biodiversity for science and partners in the agrifood industry, investigate the mechanisms at their root, and use them to innovate.

The CIRM Plant-related bacteria consists of strategic bacteria for protecting plants, with a majority of plant-pathogenic strains.

The CIRM Pathogenic bacteria is a repository of bacteria that are pathogenic for animals, preserved for medical or veterinary use as well as for research.

CIRM is involved in many research projects geared toward exploring and furthering our understanding of microbial diversity. At French national level, it constitutes the bacteria pillar of the research infrastructure RARe. At European level, after having coordinated the project EMbaRC for three years, it became heavily involved in conceiving a pan-European research infrastructure called MIRRI (Microbial Resource Research Infrastructure), and now plays a key role in its construction.
CIRM web site: https://www6.inra.fr/cirm_eng/

Scientific contact(s):

Associated Division(s):
Microbiology and the Food Chain
Associated Centre(s):
Jouy-en-Josas, Brittany-Normandy

MIRRI: Research Infrastructure in charge of organising microbial collections in Europe

Launched in November 2012, MIRRI will ultimately be a distributed Research Infrastructure facilitating access to high-quality micro-organisms, their derivatives and the data related to them, in order to fuel research and academic and industrial development. The three-year preparatory phase laid out the architecture and rules and regulations of this future infrastructure which already includes some 26 countries and more than 300,000 microorganisms.

MIRRI relied on the joint effort of key BRCs in Europe during several European projects, the most recent of which, EMbaRC (2009-2012), was coordinated by CIRM.

CIRM participated in several Work Packages of the MIRRI project (preparatory phase) such as designing infrastructure; defining governance and legal status; education; data management; defining operational legal framework, and particularly legal aspects pertaining to intellectual property (with the participation of UCPI, INRA Paris) and issues regarding security and biological safety. MIRRI is currently in the process of acquiring legal status of the ERIC (European Research Infrastructure Consortium) type, expected at the end of 2019.