skip to main content

The National Collection of Type Cultures (NCTC)

We supply over 5500 type and reference bacterial strains - many of medical, scientific and veterinary importance worldwide

Founded in 1920, NCTC is the longest-established collection of its type anywhere in the world, and also serves as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Microbial Resource Centre (MIRCEN). Certified to ISO/IEC 17025:2017, our strains support academic, health, food and veterinary institutions and are used in microbiology laboratories in a range of different sectors and in research institutes worldwide. 

NCTC is one of four Culture Collections of the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), and has access to the wide-ranging expertise of an internationally-renowned body of specialists in clinical, food, water and environmental microbiology, genomics and proteomics, from across the wider UKHSA organisation. 

NCTC provides a range of associated services which include an International Depository Authority (IDA) patent depository for bacterial cultures.


The collection is of fundamental importance to the life science community and many of the strains are stipulated in internationally recognised standard methods as definitive control strains for various microbiological testing procedures, and they represent many different species from specific disease conditions and widespread geographical locations; many have known antimicrobial resistance mechanisms/patterns and some contain specific plasmids.

The strains are preserved as characterised, authenticated freeze-dried (lyophilised) cultures in fused-glass ampoules, which are stored mainly at 10°C.

Bacterial DNA - Some strains have DNA available, at approximately 2µg it is high molecular weight and is therefore suitable for a wide range of molecular applications including whole genome sequencing. 

Microbiological reference material for internal quality control - NCTC LENTICULE® discs are now produced by Merck (previously Sigma-Aldrich).  LENTICULE® is a trade mark of UKHSA. The method of preparation and the LENTICULE® discs themselves are subject to the International Patent Application published as WO 01/05941.

We have strains grouped by specific characteristics:

  • Antimicrobial susceptibility control strains and antimicrobial resistance reference strains (click here to view the brochure)

  • Control strains for the microbiological testing of water samples for Pseudomonas aeruginosa

  • Clostridium difficile strains - Ribotype and Toxin Status

  • NCTC reference strains for Standards for Microbiology Investigations (UK-SMI)

  • World Data Centre for Microorganisms (WDCM) reference strains

Restrictions on the supply of highly pathogenic bacteria exist

Individuals and organisations must be registered with us to access restricted items.

Authorisation to access restricted pathogens registration form

There are several ways to find out more about NCTC. You can follow us on Twitter, read our latest newsletters or take a look at our brochures.

NCTC is a registered trademark of the UK Health Security Agency in the UK. The trademark must not be used without a license agreement. Parties interested in using the trademarks should contact us.