This award renews funding of the Bacillus Genetic Stock Center (BGSC) at the Ohio State University. The BGSC acquires, maintains and distributes pure cultures of several species of Bacillus, including both mutant and wildtype strains. The majority of the 1971 strains in the center's collection consist of variants or mutants Bacillus subtilis, a species that has served as important model system in basic research for many years, and whose genome was recently sequenced. Other species and strains in the collection are useful in a variety of basic and applied research areas. In addition to its role in research, the collection promotes science education through distribution of low-cost materials for secondary school and undergraduate laboratories. Both online and printed catalogues describing the content of the collection are available at the Center's web site (www.bgsc.org/). Over the past five years, it has distributed over 11,000 strains in response to 2800 individual orders originating from nearly 2000 users in academia, government, and industry. Strain distributions have increased 67% over the previous five-year period. Those requesting cultures are charged a small fee intended to cover a portion of the cost of operation. During the period funded by this award, online information on the contents of the collection and methods for use of the collected organisms will be improved, and additional strains will be added to the collection.
Bacillus bacterial strains play a vital role in microbiology research. Bacillus research has provided insight into bacterial physiology, development, and behavior that has led to a number of practical applications. For example, Bacillus is used to synthesize a wide range of antibiotics, fine chemicals, vitamins, and industrial enzymes. It also serves as a production platform for biofuels and ecofriendly pesticides. Some Bacillus species are useful as probiotics or in vaccine production; others play important roles in sterility assurance, food safety, and bioterrorism prevention. Any one of these innovations has the potential to make a positive contribution to the well being of individuals in the United States, and taken together, these developments have the potential to make a tangible difference in society. In order for researchers to realize the potential discoveries and innovations Bacillus may facilitate, however, they require access to living collections of the bacteria. The Bacillus Genetic Stock Center (BGSC) at Ohio State University is an established living culture collection devoted to maintaining genetically characterized strains, cloning vectors, and bacteriophage for the genus Bacillus and to distributing these materials to qualified scientists and educators throughout the world. During the last five years, 11,000 BGSC cultures were distributed to scientists and educators in 55 nations. The BGSC maintains representatives of 61 species in 10 genera of related bacteria. Over 50 stocks have known genome sequences. Among them are an intensively studied model organism, B. subtilis, and a number of industrially and agriculturally important bacteria. All stocks are securely maintained at the host institution and are backed up at the USDA repository, the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation. A searchable strain database, reference materials, and online ordering are available at the BGSC website. Any discussion of BGSC usage would be incomplete without a mention of the role played by the collectionâ€™s stocks and services in high school and undergraduate education. Already the BGSC has been referenced in laboratory manuals for high school and undergraduate educators, and each year the BGSC distributes stocks to several high school science teachers and dozens of instructors for undergraduate teaching labs. Well over 1000 stocks each year go to graduate students for their thesis research.