Culture Collections

World War I soldier helps in fight against dysentery


E Cable Grave and Poppies


A National Collection of Type Cultures (NCTC) bacterial strain of Shigella flexneri isolated from a WWI soldier is helping researchers to tackle dysentery, a disease that kills hundreds of thousands of children under five each year in developing nations. Teams from PHE’s Culture Collections and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute have collaborated to unlock the genetic code and history of this bacterium.  The genome sequence provides insights into the development of antibiotic resistance.  The scientific information and human story of the case are published in the Lancet and also presented in a documentary film.

A short history of NCTC is described in an original article in the September 2014 edition of The Microbiologist the journal of the Society for Applied Microbiology.


Watch the documentary film (opens in a new window)


NCTC1 Film 


Read The Lancet Articles:


Alison E Mather,Kate S Baker,Hannah McGregor,Paul Coupland,Pamela L Mather,Ana Deheer-Graham,Julian Parkhill,Philippa Bracegirdle,Julie E Russell,Nicholas R Thomson. Bacillary dysentery from World War 1 and NCTC1, the first bacterial isolate in the National Collection. (opens in new window)  The Lancet. 2014; Volume 384, Issue 9955, Page 1720.


Kate S Baker,Alison E Mather,Hannah McGregor,Paul Coupland,Gemma C Langridge,Martin Day,Ana Deheer-Graham,Julian Parkhill,Julie E Russell, Nicholas R Thomson. The extant World War 1 dysentery bacillus NCTC1: a genomic analysis. (opens in new window) The Lancet. 2014; Volume 384, Issue 9955, Pages 1691 – 1697.



Related links:

History of NCTC

NCTC 1 Shigella flexneri catalogue listing


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