Culture Collections

COVID-19 update: 5 November 2020

Culture Collections continues to support Public Health England (PHE) in the delivery of essential services central to the COVID-19 response. Read our updated dispatch and service update which includes last disptach dates before the December holiday break.

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NCTC100 in collaboration with Microbiology Society's 75th anniversary

A new digital exhibition of the archive material from the foundation of the UK’s Microbiology Society and the work of its first president, Sir Alexander Fleming, features items from the NCTC archives.

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Seasonal human coronaviruses – the forgotten relatives of famous viruses?

In the last 20 years, three novel coronaviruses have emerged resulting in significant morbidity and mortality. While our recent experiences with SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 paint the picture of coronaviruses as an extreme threat to human health, the four other coronaviruses known to infect humans typically result in the ‘the common cold’. 

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Why Choose Us?

Public Health England (PHE) is the custodian of four unique collections that consist of expertly preserved, authenticated cell lines and microbial strains of known provenance for use in medical science and laboratory healthcare.

All the collections are developed, managed and maintained by highly trained, dedicated staff who work in accordance with internationally recognised quality standards including certification to ISO 9001:2015.

Cultures from the collections are used by scientists who need to reassure themselves and others that the materials they are using are authentic, so the conclusions to their studies are valid and relevant. This is particularly important where research may lead to peer-reviewed publications, for example, in drug discovery and vaccine efficacy studies. Authenticated reference strains are also of paramount importance for clinical diagnostic testing, food, water and environmental microbiology testing and validation studies.

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Cell lines

The European Collection of Authenticated Cell Cultures (ECACC) maintains and supplies cell lines and their derivatives such as DNA, RNA and cDNA.



NCTC ICON small size


The National Collection of Type Cultures (NCTC) maintains and supplies over 5,000 bacteria and mycoplasma strains.



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The National Collection of Pathogenic Viruses (NCPV) maintains and supplies over 700 viruses and viral nucleic acid.



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The National Collection of Pathogenic Fungi (NCPF) maintains and supplies over 4000 fungal strains.


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