he National Center for Marine Algae and Microbiota (NCMA) has put out the word that they are looking to expand their algal strain collection for the betterment of science. “We are looking for unialgal micro- or macroalgae isolated strains to add to our collection. If you have unique culture(s) or strain(s) new to science, you have published your results and need a public repository, and/or you are retiring and don’t want to lose your careers work, consider depositing your cultures with us. Your deposits will help build a more comprehensive and diverse algae collection.”
Part of the NCMA core mission is to receive and curate algae that are interesting or valuable to the scientific, educational and business communities. The NCMA maintains the largest and most diverse collection of publically available marine algal strains in the world. The algal strains in the collection have been obtained from all over the world, from polar to tropical waters, marine, freshwater, brackish, and hyper-saline environments. New strains (50 – 100 per year) are added largely through the accession of strains deposited by scientists in the community. A stringent accession policy is required to help populate the collection with a diverse range of strains.
The East Boothbay, Maine-based laboratory’s accession decision matrix focuses on increasing taxonomic, geographic, and ecological strain diversity; reducing redundancy in the core collection (i.e. avoiding multiple strains of the same species unless a good reason is presented), accepting strains that are easy to cryopreserve (inexpensive to maintain), have been published, or have had their genomes/transcriptomes sequenced.
The NCMA has the largest collection of cryopreserved marine algae in the world. As of September 9, 2013, they had 1,698 cryopreserved algal strains maintained only in liquid nitrogen (vapor phase), and 181 of the most popular strains successfully cryopreserved that are also maintained as perpetually transferred strains (since they are ordered so frequently).
When algal strains are deposited at the NCMA, they are assigned a number prefixed by the CCMP identifier; this becomes the algae strain’s official reference (e.g., CCMP332). Many scientific journals require researchers to deposit strains and officially identify new algae this way; it ensures that future scientists from anywhere in the world can conduct comparative work on the same strain.
The following are the NCMA’s acquisition priorities. Marine strains are a preferable, though they will accept algae from all habitats if they meet two or three of their other priorities:
- Strains that are easy to cryopreserve.
- Strains that are published.
- Strains that have had their genome or transcriptome sequenced and the data is publically available.
- Special Interest, e.g.
- Toxin producer
- High lipid
- Unusual pigmentation
- Other unusual natural products
- Helps in the study of taxonomy or biodiversity (prioritizing groups listed below)
- Taxonomic gaps: NCMA wishes to be relevant and current regarding algal taxonomy and tree of life initiatives, taxonomic philosophy, etc., therefore it is essential that they request newly described groups and species from the phycological community, and engage the phycological community for recommendations. Some gaps already described include newly described species and missing link species such as Paulinella, Apicomplexonsand Apicomplexon-like organisms, and Euglenoids such as Rapaza viridis.
- Ecological gaps including but not limited to:
- Polar cyanophytes
- Polar dinoflagellates
- Open ocean organisms that are not picoplankton
- Geographical gaps including but not limited to:
- Bay of Bengal
- Hudson bay
- Bay of Alaska
- Tierra del Fuego
- Sea of Okhotsk
- Mozambique Channel
- Southern upwelling areas such as French Southern and Antarctic, Southern Ocean east of New Zealand
- Northern Russia
- Northern Scandinavia
- Northern Canada
The strain should be identified to the species level, and should be devoid of protozoa, fungi and other algae. Depositions should include information regarding collection (site, environmental/ecological data, date and collector), isolation information, identification (who identified the strain), known properties (e.g., toxicity, bioluminescence, pigments), and growth conditions (culture medium, temperature, salinity, etc.).
For more information, email email@example.com with information about your strain(s) including why it should be in the NCMA strain library.