Safeguarding and realising the potential of the Australian wine microbial germplasm collection
The AWMCC originates from early microbiological investigations in Australian wines by John Fornachon in the 1940s and the earliest days of the AWRI. Since that time ongoing additions to the AWMCC from wineries and researchers across Australia have led to the development of a repository that houses the Australian wine industry’s microbial germplasm heritage. The AWMCC currently holds more than 2,600 yeast and more than 1,000 bacterial strains, with an electronic database used to record information about each strain and to manage their movement (deposition and supply) and intellectual property.
In its large collection of microbes, the AWMCC holds reference strains, research strains and a large number of Australian indigenous yeast and bacterial isolates. Many of these have yet to be identified and characterised for what they can bring to winemaking. This largely untapped resource has the potential to provide Australian winemakers with novel yeast and bacterial winemaking strains for efficient and reliable fermentations; it also offers a means to shape unique wine styles or to more fully express regional characters.
Identification, storage and distribution of microbial strains
In 2014/2015, 427 yeast and bacterial strains were submitted to the AWMCC from researchers and wineries. All strains submitted were checked for purity, had their identity determined and were placed into cryogenic storage at -80°C. An additional 55 strains already present in the AWMCC were identified. During the year the AWMCC received a large number of requests for yeast and bacterial strains, resulting in 732 microbial samples being distributed from cryogenic stocks.
Reducing the risk of loss of the microbial germplasm collection
To reduce the risk the loss of this valuable microbial germplasm resource, such as in the event of a disaster (e.g. fire), the collection has been duplicated. This back-up duplicate microbial collection is stored in a secure off-site location.