Culture collections (CCs) manage fundamental data about preserved microorganisms. To enable the exploitation of these resources requires standardized, and simplified, access to the associated information. To this end, a European Microbial Resource Research Infrastructure, MIRRI, was established. A prime objective of MIRRI is to unite and provide universal access to the information available in European public collections of microorganisms through a dynamic Information System, the MIRRI-IS. In this context, the desired outcome would include a repository for microbial domain Biological Resource Centre (mBRC) catalogues in a common format, the validation of catalogue contents to provide quality data, the interconnection of domain information systems for data extension, a unique portal for catalogues and associated data and an interoperable system based on Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and service based interfaces and workflows.
The architectural design of the system foresees the adoption of a standard format for exchanging data between CCs, a Minimum Data Set for essential data, to evolve into Minimum Information about Biological Resources (MIaBRe), a user-friendly interface, as well as APIs and services/workflows for integration software.
Three systems were developed in the MIRRI preparatory phase. They have been developed to cope with distinct issues. The BacDive demonstrator aims at extending the contents of catalogues with a greater number of better defined data. The StrainInfo demonstrator is targeted towards a better integration among collection catalogues through the identification of common strains. It makes some order in strains available in various collections and makes possible the re-organization of collections and the sharing of data between catalogues. The USMI Galaxy demonstrator is aimed at supporting data curation and at integrating catalogues with external resources. It makes it possible to integrate collections' data with other bioinformatics databases by leveraging on existing tools and with little development requirements. Moreover, it allows the improvement of a collection’s data by automating links to external databases.
A five-year plan for the implementation of the MIRRI-IS has been defined. The four main lines included in the plan are data curation, interoperability, applications development and IT competence. Data curation is meant to be developed by the progressive adoption of Standard Operating Procedures, able to lead user catalogues from the current Minimum Data Set to a structured extended data set and finally to data sets fully compliant with Minimum Information about Biological Resources (MIaBRE) guidelines, still under definition. Interoperability will lead current separated catalogues to interact with an integrated repository of reference data which will finally allow user access to all catalogues through a common portal.