Tips: How to Track your Bugs

When Van Leeuwenhoek discovered the world of microorganisms, after he figured out how to get a fantastic x200 magnification from fabricated glass (i.e. the microscope), his observations were mostly of bacteria, protozoa and yeasts. Back then his detailed descriptions were sufficient to impress the Royal Society and later he was recognized as the “father of microbiology”. Today it’s difficult to appreciate how many [1] strains of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other unicellular organisms exist.Most microbiology labs utilize not only a couple of dozens of wild-type strains but hundreds or even thousands of sub-strains that are the product of years of hard bench work. With the growing strain collection it is imperative to have a well organized in-lab collection of glycerol stocks as well as backup copies located in an off-site deep freezer. The key step is to start cataloguing from day one of the lab’s life. Here are some tips for proper cataloguing conduct:

    • Consistent coding – A consistent manner of cataloguing each strain should be implemented by every lab member in a manner that will maintain uniqueness. As space is limited on tubes, it is best to use the shortest possible code, such as initials of researcher combined with current date in six number and letter suffix (i.e. CG170811A). The researcher’s initials are required to differentiate several samples prepared on the same day by several researchers and also helps in the identification of a sample’s owner. The letter suffix is required when several samples are prepared at the same day. This might seem unimportant now, but when you will be looking for a specific stock prepared several years ago it will be easier to read the writing of a simple code and not a small and tightly spaced description.