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A day in the life of a microbial library curator

Written by: Young Nam Lee
Published on: 15 Jan 2024

I work at FA Bio as the curator of the Microbial Library Collection (MLC). My main duties include managing our collection of microbes from various seasons, fields, and crop sources, and contributing to their data management. Additionally, I am developing preservation methods for distinct fungal taxonomical groups based on their unique characteristics, to enrich our library collection in the long term.


After graduating high school, I decided to study biology at university, where microbiology was included as a part of the curriculum. In graduate school, I studied plant molecular biology and plant pathology, which was a blend of plant biology and microbiology rather than a sole focus on microbiology.

While I didn’t delve extensively into microbiology, I had been aware of its importance from my laboratory experience throughout my science career. Microbes play essential roles in both nature and our laboratories, and while I was curious about them, I had not yet had the opportunity to study them further.

Turning point

A crucial turning point in my career was joining FA Bio (previously FungiAlert) in 2018. It was the first time that microbiology became the primary focus of my career. Since then, I have enjoyed every experience and moment in my workplace.


FA Bio provides growers with its unique patented technology, SporSenZ, a powerful tool for analysing soil microbes, to understand more about their soil microbial communities and soil biodiversity. Using SporSenZ, we have analysed more than 6,000 microbes, identifying and preserving those with significant importance or potential microbial active ingredients for disease control, plant growth promotion and fertiliser activities based on our analysis.

Using innovative DNA sequencing methods, bioinformatics, microbial bioassays and glasshouse studies FA Bio utilises its microbial library to find microbial active ingredients for bioproducts.

Our goal is to minimise agricultures environmental impact and restore soil health whilst sustainably increasing crop yields.

Daily routine

I start my day by reading my emails, checking updates from my colleagues, and familiarising myself with my schedule for the day. In the morning, I review the fungal cultures which my colleagues have isolated from various sources based on their morphology and molecular analysis data. The results of this review process guides the selection of fungal cultures that are incorporated into our library.


The afternoon is dedicated to either laboratory or office work. In the lab, I deposit fungal samples in the library, monitor fungal cultures in the growth chamber, or work in the biosafety cabinet to ensure the quality control of our library. In the office, I update the library database, study information on the characteristics of important fungal samples and their preservation, or plan for upcoming rounds of my lab work.

Occasionally, I undertake ad-hoc tasks that not only support different parts of our process pipelines but also enhance the quality of our library. I also allocate time on a weekly basis for personal development through online courses, which is encouraged by the company.

Landmark moments

I’ve had two significant moments in my career at FA Bio so far. The first was when I was offered the position of MLC curator. It was a role I had aspired to ever since we began accumulating our initial fungal cultures.

The second moment occurred during the last week of November 2023 when our fungal collection surpassed 2,000 microbial active ingredients. This marks a substantial milestone for both me and FA Bio. I appreciate my colleagues’ hard work and support in achieving this milestone.


My most surprising moment in this role happened in late spring/early summer 2018 when I was comparing our molecular analysis results with our cultures. I had a plate in my hands, containing an unknown sample from the field, with long, curly mycelia and a lot of small black spots. Upon checking the sequence result and discovering that it was Rhizopus arrhizus, I felt as though nature had shared one of its secrets with me. It was the moment I realised the direct connection between my work in the lab and the natural world.

Joy of fungi

I love my job as a curator in the mycology field. Despite my introduction to fungal science occurring later in life, it has become a significant source of motivation for me. I find great joy in the experiences and knowledge I gain from my work.

I am also very proud of our library collection, where our fungal samples showcase diversity in their attractive morphology and unique characteristics. Each new season brings the discovery of previously unknown samples, and I take pride in adding them to our library.


Another source of joy in my work life is my colleagues. I owe much of my current self to them, as I have been nurtured by their kind support and appreciate them from the bottom of my heart.

I envision the future of our company as a supplier, launching chemical-free bioproducts within the agricultural market, thereby actualising our mission and goals. I set personal aspirations for my future as a continually evolving fungal curator, committed to ongoing efforts aimed at enhancing both my skills and our company’s overall success.

Find out more about FA Bio.