Bioresource Management for Sustainable Use: Thailand Status Update

Lily Eurwilaichitr
Supawadee Ingsrisawang, Suwanee Chunhametha,
Tanit Changtavorn, Bubpha Techapattaraporn and Wanchern Potacharoen

National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechology (BIOTEC),
National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA),
Pathumthani, Thailand

In Thailand, a national network of culture collections, so-called Thailand Network on Culture Collection (TNCC) has been established for more than 10 years. The network has consisted of four members, namely BIOTEC Culture Collection (BCC), DMST Culture Collection (DMST), DOA Culture Collection (DOA) and TISTR Culture Collection (TISTR). The aim of this network is to standardize the management of microbial resources and information in Thailand. Mainly, the information of well characterized microorganisms maintained by each culture collection member will be shared, updated and publicly accessible via the TNCC website. To date, BCC holds approximately 49,000 strains (968 genera, 1722 species) of filamentous fungi, yeasts and bacteria isolated from natural environments in Thailand. DMST Culture Collection houses over 32,000 strains of filamentous fungi, yeasts, bacteria and cell lines related to human disease control and prevention. DOA Culture Collection has in the collection more than 6,000 strains of agriculturally important algae, bacteria and filamentous fungi. TISTR Culture Collection holds about 3,500 strains (557 species of 213 genera) of agriculturally and industrially useful algae, bacteria, filamentous fungi and yeasts. At present, 5,500 strains of microorganisms are made available in the TNCC website.

BIOTEC, as one of the National Centers, has developed a software called iCollect to technically support the management of various biological collections in Thailand. This software allows users to create any type of sample containers and storage devices, store any type of samples and collections, and search any information in the collection. The depository and the transfer of samples are recorded and tracked for sample traceability. To maximize the future utilization of microbial resources in Thailand, iCollect has also been introduced to the TNCC. This software has additional functions to provide an efficient linkage of network and data management. A more recent development is the integration of  information on diverse aspects of bio-resources collected in research organizations under Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), namely the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA); Thailand Institute of Scientific and Technological Research (TISTR) and National Science Museum (NSM). These three parties utilize the software iCollect to share their information into the integrated databases called “ThaiSciBiodiversity”.  This database can serve various activities and purposes such as preservation of natural environment, research and geographic references and community based ecotourism.   

Another major achievement of TNCC is the establishment of common policy and procedures on the distribution and exchange of microbes. Relevant tools, such as material acquisition agreement and material transfer agreement have been developed. With the harmonized policy and measures, TNCC complies with the domestic access and benefit sharing regulation. In addition, the established procedures represent a legal framework for the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol, which will play vital role for the exchange of micro-organisms in a near future.

To promote a sustainable use of microorganisms and other bioresources in Thailand, Thailand Biological Resource Research Center (TBRRC) will be established in 2013 at Thailand Science Park. The main objective is to be a one-stop bioresources center that provides support for both academic and industrial sectors and promotes a sustainable use of microorganisms in Thailand. The three main functions of the TBRRC are to provide services related to biological materials, to manage biological information as well as the local (including TNCC and universities culture collection) and regional networking and to ensure that the handling, storage and distribution of micro-organisms is in line with the required domestic and international legislation.