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A National Capability

Yeasts and food is an association going back to earliest human times. Today, yeasts are used in many other biotechnological processes and in world-leading academic research. The National Collection of Yeast Cultures (NCYC) has become an essential resource underpinning UK excellence in the biological sciences and is one of the largest yeast collections in the world, housed at the Institute of Food Research since 1981. It serves a customer base of over 600 different organisations and distributes around 400 cultures per year. Although biodiversity preservation is, of course, vital for human survival, the job of the NCYC is not just to collect and preserve biodiversity that might otherwise disappear. It also has a programme to improve yeast characterisation using state-of-the-art techniques such as molecular phylogenetics and comparative genomics.

Excellent strain accession, supply and knowledge transfer mechanisms have developed during over 60 years of interaction with academic and industrial sectors involved in biological research targeted at food security and dietary health.

The purpose of the NCYC, a BBSRC-supported National Capability, is to provide a sustainable service to academic and commercial stakeholders in terms of accession, curation, identification and supply of strains and associated information. The NCYC provides a globally important hub on the pathways from fundamental research to technological uptake and economic impact.