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Improving lives by solving problems in agriculture and the environment...

CABI's Microbial Services

CABI's Microbial Services

CABI is a leading provider of microbial services. We specialise in microbial identification and verification, and provide professional microbiology services in support of industry, academia and agriculture. 

Our team of scientists is headed up by Professor Paul Bridge and includes mycologists, molecular biologists, bacteriologists, ecologists, systematists and biochemists. All our experts have many years of experience and are trained to the highest level.

Latest news

CABI achieves unique UKAS accreditation for molecular identification of bacteria

CABI is pleased to announce that its Microbial Services division has achieved UKAS accreditation to ISO 17025 for the molecular identification of bacteria. The accreditation covers identification of bacteria isolates to species level by partial 16S rRNA gene sequencing. This service is unique in the UK, as it's the only service to be accredited by UKAS for the entire identification process including providing the name of the organism.

CABI already holds UKAS accreditation for a wide range of microbial testing. UKAS accreditation provides an assurance of competence, impartiality and integrity. Customers not only benefit from a high quality service operating to internationally recognized standards but also receive reports bearing the UKAS symbol of quality, bringing national and international recognition to their business. Click here for the full range of UKAS accredited services offered by CABI.


UKAS Testing


New screening tool from CABI and Enzagen

CABI’s Microbial Services team is undertaking a new initiative with Enzagen, to provide simple ready to use microbial 'panels' as screening kits. Streptomet, the first kit, is aimed at metabolite screening such as hydroxylation and glucuronidation reactions. The kit comprises freeze-dried biomass from 20 different Streptomyces cultures. Further details, including ordering and prices are available through Enzagen, at


CABI's Microbial Identification Service provides an international, high quality, confidential service for the identification of filamentous fungi, yeasts and bacteria. We serve clients from a range of industries including the pharmaceutical, food and manufacturing sectors, as well as research organisations working in agriculture, horticulture, quarantine, biodiversity assessment and biological control.

Women scientist working in lab

We manage a collection of over 28,000 living strains including the UK National Collection of Fungus Cultures. The culture collection contains over 6,000 species isolated from environmental and agricultural systems worldwide, making it one of the most significant in the world.  

Our range of organisms consists of filamentous fungi and yeasts, plant pathogenic bacteria, including extremophiles, metabolite producing strains, biological control agents and many more.  

Find out more about our culture collection or browse our online catalogue.

Scientist holding testtube with plant inside

We provide a broad range of microbial investigation, testing and consultancy services, both off-site and at our UKAS accredited facilities.

Our experts can:
  • investigate fungal contamination problems in both the home and workplace, and advises how to minimise risk conduct on-site mould contamination testing, and air testing for fungal spores
  • carry out mould growth testing to internationally recognised standards
  • test and monitor fuel for microbial contamination, as overseen by our dedicated team at Conidia Bioscience.

Scientist looking at plant specimen in lab

We provide training in molecular identification of microorganisms, morphological identification of fungi, microbial techniques, isolation methods for fungi and bacteria, and preservation of microorganisms. Over the last 25 years our scientists have trained over 5,000 people and run 75 courses in 13 countries, enabling participants to identify, maintain and utilise microorganisms in their business and research.

Find out more about our microbial training.

As part of Member Country benefits, a free microbial identification service is available to CABI Member Countries in bands 1-4 (i.e. those with a UN Index Number between 0 - 0.999).

CABI Member Countries eligible for the free service are currently:
Anguilla / Bahamas / Bangladesh / Bermuda / Botswana / British Virgin Islands / Brunei / Burundi / Chile / Colombia / Cote D’Ivoire / Cyprus / DPR Korea / Gambia / Ghana / Grenada / Guyana / India / Jamaica / Kenya / Malawi / Malaysia / Mauritius / Montserrat / Myanmar / Nigeria / Pakistan / Papua New Guinea / Philippines / Rwanda / Sierra Leone / Solomon Islands / South Africa / Sri Lanka / St Helena / Tanzania / Trinidad / Uganda / Vietnam / Zambia / Zimbabwe.

The free service provides specifically for identification of bacteria and fungi of agricultural/horticultural importance or origin, relating to food security or plant health, including quarantine organisms.

Within each qualifying Member Country, the free service is available to:

  • National and Regional Agricultural Research Centres
    Government Institutions responsible for agriculture and food security
    University Departments whose studies relate to agricultural research

A limited number of identifications can be provided under the scheme as detailed below:

  • A maximum of 5 samples per institution may be submitted at any one time
    A maximum of 10 samples per institution may be submitted in one year
How to apply for the free service

Customers are advised to check that their samples qualify for the free service before dispatch. A request to send material should be made directly to the CABI Microbial Identification Service Notification will then be provided as to whether the material can be accepted for free processing. Material dispatched to CABI without prior notice may not necessarily be accepted for processing under this scheme. In this circumstance the sender will be notified.

More information on country eligiblity and how to access services and submit samples is available (Member Country access only). 

Conditions required for acceptance

The following requirements must be met when submitting samples:

  • The sender is requested provide details stating the relevance of their enquiry to plant health issues of agricultural/horticultural importance or food security
    Samples must be submitted with adequate documentation
    Samples must not be known or suspected to be pathogenic to man or animals
    Samples in culture must be pure (not mixed), containing only one organism
    Samples sent as cultures must be free of mites
Advice on preparing cultures
  • Cultures should be pure, containing one organism only
    Malt Agar is recommended for growing fungi and yeasts and Nutrient Agar for bacteria
    For bacteria and yeasts, prepare fresh cultures using the quadrant streak method and submit in 90mm Petri dishes. We need well-separated single colonies for DNA extraction
    For fungi, send cultures that are 1-2 weeks old and sporulating if possible. Send in Petri dishes or on agar slopes in bottles or test tubes
    For all samples, use clear containers to permit observation of colonies
    Ensure Petri dishes are sealed completely around the edge with tape
    Check that bottle caps are not over-tightened
    Fit test tubes with a sterile cotton-wool bung or use tubes with screw-tops
    Label each isolate with a reference number or code
    Send in UN 3373 approved packaging and follow IATA packaging instruction 650
    If sending known hazard group 2 microorganisms, use UN 2814 approved packaging and follow IATA packaging instruction 602(class 6.2)
    Please see our postage & packing regulations for more information
Preparing dried specimens
  • Specimens (e.g. infected roots, stems, leaves) should be fully dried before sending.
    Press leaves to avoid curling
    Submit specimens with sporulating material if possible and send several pieces
    Attach delicate specimens on to card before sending
    Place each sample in a separate paper enveloped labelled with your own reference number
    Do not use plastic bags for sending samples as these can cause condensation and result in spoilage
    Send samples in a crush-proof box to avoid damage in transit
    Retain a representative collection of each sample as material is not normally returned
Sending microscope slides
  • Material mounted on glass slides to accompany cultures and specimens are not required but may be useful if the sender is interested in only one organism and several others are present on the specimen
    Send in a close-fitting cardboard or plastic slide box
    Protect with packing material and send in a crush-proof container
Sending photographs
  • These are useful to show symptoms of plant disease
    Place in paper envelopes and send with the samples

Samples are not returned so you are advised to keep some material for your own reference.

Mite control

Customers are advised to check cultures and specimens for the presence of mites before sending. Samples that contain mites cannot be accepted for processing.

For information on how to prevent and control mites see mite control information

Documentation required when sending samples

A copy of our Members ID request form for the submission of samples should be completed and sent with the samples. For advice on completing each section, see the instructions given on page 4 of the form.

A copy of our Letter of Authority to import material for identification must be sent with all batches of samples. Complete Box 1 of the form and attach this to your documentation inside the package. If possible, please also attach a copy to the outside of the package. The package should have our import licence number, (as given on the Letter of Authority), marked on the outside.

Address to send samples

In the case of fungi and bacteria in pure culture, which have been accepted for free processing, these should be submitted to:

Microbial Identification Service
CABI Europe-UK,
Bakeham Lane,
TW20 9TY

Samples of plant material for diagnosis of disease organisms should be submitted to:

The Plantwise Clinic
CABI Europe-UK,
Bakeham Lane,
TW20 9TY


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