MIRRI PT Polo Norte: Northern node of the Portuguese Microbial Resource Research Infrastructure
Biological resources, such as microorganisms and their derivatives, are the essential raw material for the advancement of biotechnology, human health and food systems, and for the research and development in Life Sciences and bioindustries. Products derived from microorganisms include drugs, antimicrobials, biopesticides and biofertilizers, biomass and industrial enzymes. Their uses include wine and beer fermentations, pest biocontrol, biofuel production, etc. Better-managed resources will lead to further discoveries and to the establishment of innovative solutions and products of biotechnological interest, stimulating the bioeconomy. The microbial biodiversity is still significantly unknown. Only about 1% was scientifically described and a small fraction of it is preserved in biological repositories called microbial culture collections (CCs). When CCs have established quality management systems and work under national and international legal frameworks, this generates a more advanced concept defined as microBiological Resources Centres (mBRCs). In the Portuguese Norte region, there are 4 CCs (UM-MUM, UM-CDB, LEGE-CIIMAR and CIMOCC-IPB) with a rough estimate of 5000 holdings covering different taxonomic groups and linked with research and public service activities. The landscape on this field goes from mature CCs to more recent ones; from more diverse taxonomic holdings to thematic ones; and all with different organization and quality management levels. This heterogeneity and fragmentation represents a constraint to underpinning life science, human health, food systems and biotechnology developments. Associated with this scenario, these 4 CCs lack digital documentation and online presence, i.e., ecatalogues. Only UM-MUM and LEGE-CIIMAR have individual e-catalogues. The CCs have been working together in the Portuguese mBRC Network (https://mbrcn.pt/) to establish the Microbial Resource Research Infrastructure (MIRRI, www.mirri.org) Portuguese node and these 4 CCs, situated on the Norte region, to establish the MIRRI-PTPolo Norte consortium.
This project aims to unite the 4 CCs and foster the link between the MIRRI-PT-Polo Norte and user communities via a common portal in a one-stop site. To build this, the consortium will establish a unique e-catalogue and provide common services. Simultaneously, quality control and quality assurance will be put in place within the consortium in order to define common procedures based in a quality management system, ensuring that the microbiological resources and associated data have high quality and the operation complies with the legal framework. With this current project the consortium expects to maximise impact on prompting dialogues, cooperation, and coordination between key R&D and bioindustrial stakeholders and MIRRI-PT-Polo Norte research driving force, with special focus in the expected impact into bioindustry, with translation of biotechnology and microbial applications into the market.