Summary: A distributed Microbial Information Network Europe (MINE) is being constructed by a number of major microbial culture collections in countries of the European Community, with the support of the Biotechnology Action Programme (BAP) of the Commission of the European Community. The representatives of the collections participating in MINE have agreed to adopt a general format for the computer storage and retrieval of strain data. This uniform format will facilitate the electronic combination and exchange of data from different collections in order to produce integrated catalogues and the use of identical commands to search the different databases. It is recommended to other collections who may wish to contribute data to the MINE network or between themselves.

Three kinds of records can be linked to the leading “species records”: strain records, synonym records, and alternative morphonym records. A minimum data set of 30 fields (similar to the fields used for producing catalogues) is defined that facilitates the exchange of data between the national nodes and serves as a directory to strains available at other nodes. It is suggested that the full strain record comprise 99 fields, grouped in 12 blocks: internal administration - name - strain administration - status - environment and history - biological interactions - sexuality - properties (cytology, biomolecular data) - genotype and genetics - growth conditions - chemistry and enzymes - practical applications. Several fields are divided into subfields of different ranks. Delimiters are used either to separate a range of entries that have to be indexed or to divide an entry from the reference to its source or remarks that should not be indexed. The contents and structure of the fields proposed for filamentous fungi and yeasts are described and in some cases illustrated by examples. Uniformity of input is essential for indexed fields and desirable for non-indexed fields. Seven thesaurus files are envisaged to ensure consistency.


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