Hit by funding cuts, “priceless” libraries of microbial cultures are languishing.
Public storehouses from New York to California house hundreds of thousands of bacterial and fungal strains that advanced penicillin and the CRISPR gene-editing system.
But dried-up funding has left strains vulnerable. If privatized, high member fees could cancel investigations.
Properly cared for, the stores have untold research benefits, says Kansas State University researcher Kevin McCluskey. “We need those publicly available—not behind a paywall." McCluskey has been working on a National Science Foundation project to build the US Culture Collection Network to invest in microbial futures.