Welcome to the ARS Culture Collection (NRRL)

The ARS Culture Collection is one of the largest public collections of microorganisms in the world, containing approximately 98,000 isolates of bacteria and fungi. The collection is housed within the Mycotoxin Prevention and Applied Microbiology Research Unit at the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Illinois. The scientists and staff of the ARS Culture Collection conduct and facilitate microbiological research that advances agricultural production, food safety, public health, and economic development. These goals are pursued through in-house research that improves understanding and utilization of microbiological diversity and through efforts to enhance the value and accessibility of microbial accessions in the Agricultural Research Service Culture Collection.

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Our Policies and Procedures

Open Collection Policy (Strain Requests)

Requests should be made via the Online Catalog for strains in the Open Collection. University Request must be by and mailed to Professor (PI). Inquiries regarding strains not found in the online catalog should be made by e-mail and should include the accession number, if known, and the Genus/species of the organism.
Plant (APHIS PPQ 526) and Animal pathogen (APHIS VS 16-3) strains require permit in advance of order.

Open Collection Policy (Strain Deposits)

Requests for deposition of strains into the ARS Open Culture Collection must be made to the Collection Manager in advance of shipment of culture materials. This must be done to ensure the Collection will be able to cultivate the microorganism(s), is willing to accept the proposed deposit, and has the appropriate APHIS permits, when necessary.
Please click on this link for the deposit spreadsheet NRRL Deposit Spreadsheet.

Open Collection Policy (Strain Fees/Limit Policy)

All strains from the Open Collection are free of charge, excluding postage and customs fees.
Requests must be limited to 24 strains per request, and may total no more than 24 strains to a given laboratory/ department on an annual basis.
(24 strains per any 12 month period).
Inquiries regarding obtaining more strains than the annual limit should be directed to the Collection Manager
well in advance of a request.

Patent Collection Policy (Strain Requests)

Strains in the Patent Collection are not available in the Online Catalog. To request a patent strain, the Recipient Scientist (PI for Universities) must email us a digitally signed letter of request on your institution's letterhead stating the NRRL # and the Genus/species for the strain(s), along with a prepaid shipping label. There is a charge of $40.00 for each strain requested. If your institution requires a PO# on invoice, please include in your letter. We will send an invoice for payment via email, once the strain(s) have departed to shipping. If you are not sure if the strain(s) are in the open or patent collection, email us.

Patent Collection Policy (Strain Deposits)

We accept Bacteria and Fungi for deposit for patent protection under the Budapest Treaty. Requests for deposition of strains into the ARS Patent Culture Collection must be made to the Collection Manager in advance of shipment of culture materials via email of completed Deposit Form(s). A deposit form for each strain must be completed and sent with the cultures. There is a charge of $670.00 per patent strain deposited in the patent collection. Payment will be invoiced via email after Viability Checks of Strain(s)are complete.
Please click on this link for the deposit form NRRL Patent Deposit Form

Shipping Cost/Procedures

Requests must attach an electronic image (PDF) of a prepaid shipping label for a 1 lb (0.5 kg) padded envelope (8.5" x 11"). US Carriers - Fed Ex, UPS, USPS.
We only ship to academic and business addresses.
All international orders use Fed Ex, UPS(no UPS SAVER) or DHL and will need a Proforma Invoice for customs purpose only, completed and scanned at check-out. We can not accept account #'s. All orders without proper shipping label will be canceled. Shipping From:
Collection Manager
ARS Culture Collection (NRRL)
1815 N. University Street
Peoria, IL 61604 (309-681-6398)

Material Transfer Agreements (MTA)

MTA's are only required for Biosafety Level 2 (BSL/2) strains from the NRRL Culture Collection. The MTA will be initiated by an email from the Collection Manager after your order is placed. The MTA will need to be signed by the Recipient Scientist ordering the strain(s) and your Biosafety Officer/Tech Transfer Office. Fed-Ex is the only authorized carrier for BSL/2 strains from the NRRL Culture Collection. Please only have Fed-Ex label with order if ordering BSL/2 strain(s). Please click on this link for an example MTA Example MTA Document

Acknowledging the NRRL

The ARS Culture Collection is funded by the USDA-ARS and is therefore able to distribute and accession microbial strains at no charge to the scientific community. It is important for the culture collection to track and document the impact of our work and the microbial strains we distribute in our annual reports to ensure continued funding. We request that recipients acknowledge the contribution of the ARS Culture Collection to any work using microorganisms from the culture collection by including the following text “Microbial strains used in this work were provided by the USDA-ARS Culture Collection (NRRL)”

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Click on Question for Answer

2023 Distributions


Orders Placed


Strains Sent


Unique Recipients


Unique Countries

Patent Payments



  • Pay with credit/debit/ACH

  • Include "NRRL Culture Collection - Peoria" in remarks

  • Mode Code: Peoria, IL (5010)



  • Payable To:


  • Send To:
    Lee Soon
    Budget, NCAUR
    1815 N. University St.
    Peoria, IL 61604

Purchase Order


Our Team

Kirk Broders

Curator/Lead Scientist

Travis Adkins

Collection Manager/Computer Tech

Lisa McCormick

Microbiology Technician

Tabi Morton

Microbiology Technician

Thomas Usgaard

Microbiology Technician

Former Team Members

Todd Ward

Director/Research Leader

David P. Labeda

Curator/Lead Scientist

Cletus P. Kurtzman

Research Microbiologist

Alejandro Rooney

Research Microbiologist

Stephen Peterson

Research Microbiologist

James Swezey

Collection Manager

Kerry O'Donnell

Research Microbiologist


  • Jan Suszkiw,ARS Office of Communications
  • February 2018

ARS Culture Collection: A Valuable Resource

Read More>>

  • Scott Elliot,ARS Office of Communications
  • October 2022

Researchers Uncover 33 New Species of Toxic Fungi (NRRL)

Watch Video»

  • Janani Hariharan, School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell University
  • March 2021

A Guardians of the Microbial Galaxy (NRRL)

Read More»

Get in touch




Send Message


Collection Manager
ARS Culture Collection (NRRL)
1815 N. University Street
Peoria, IL 61604