A biological resource centre, it collects more than one hundred strains of live microorganisms isolated from marine environments and made available for research, industry and education.
CoSMi is part of the WFCC - World Federation for Culture Collections, is associated with the national infrastructure MIRRI.it, is a facility of the ERIC LifeWatch infrastructures, EMBRC and is an integral part of the BioMarine Lab, part of the ECCSEL ERIC infrastructure and of the Gulf of Trieste observatory system.
CoSMi's mission is to isolate, grow and identify marine microorganisms by combining morphological observations and molecular analyses, and make them available to the scientific community and the food, pharmaceutical, nutraceutical and energy industries. The assessment and conservation of biodiversity is a key issue in managing marine ecosystems that are undergoing alterations due to climate change and/or anthropogenic pressures. Collections of cultures of microorganisms can represent a reservoir of living material and genetic information and a source of living organisms to improve knowledge of their biodiversity.
The collection contains numerous species of unicellular, autotrophic and heterotrophic eukaryotes, mainly belonging to the macro groups of diatoms, dinoflagellates, coccolithophores, flagellates and ciliates.
A distinctive feature is the presence of numerous species, mainly isolated from the Gulf of Trieste, of potentially toxic dinoflagellates and diatoms responsible for blooms. Species used in aquaculture and ecotoxicology are also present.
The laboratories of the infrastructure are equipped with:
- three illuminated 'walk-in' growing rooms, one at a permanent temperature of 15°C for maintaining strains and two available for growth at any temperature between 10 and 30°C;
- an air-conditioned area for transferring cultures and preparing culture media with a laminar flow hood and two microscopes, a stereo microscope and an inverted phase-contrast microscope equipped with a camera;
- an area for washing glassware with an autoclave.
There are also two refrigerated cells, one with sixteen 20L aquariums and one with two photobioreactors for experiments under controlled conditions (pH, temperature, light, O2, CO2). In the infrastructure's laboratories, it is therefore possible to conduct experiments on the cultivation of microorganisms under controlled conditions in both flasks and photobioreactors to study the response of these organisms in different environmental conditions.
The CoSMi staff is active in dissemination and training on biodiversity issues, helping to improve the understanding of the role of microorganisms in marine environmental dynamics. CoSMi collaborates with Italian and foreign institutes and supports the experimental part of various research projects.