Microbe Talk Extra: Culture Collections

Posted on July 7, 2015   by Anand Jagatia

Private Ernest Cable was a WW1 soldier who died on 13 March 1915 and his body now lies in a communal cemetery in Wimereux, France.

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Records suggest that Cable was the first British soldier in WW1 to die from dysentery – an intestinal diarrhoeal infection, caused by Shigella flexneri bacteria. Today, a sample of the very Shigella which infected and killed Cable can be found at the National Collection of Type Cultures (NCTC), where it is helping researchers to understand the evolution of drug resistance.

The NCTC is part of Public Health England’s Culture Collections, which includes thousands of strains of bacteria, viruses and fungi. We spoke to Julie Russell, Head of Culture Collections, about some of the more unusual historical strains housed there, and the role that they continue to play in the fight against disease.

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Image: Wimereux Communal Cemetery. Image credit: Wernervc on Wikimedia Commons under CC-BY-SA-3.0