Journal Article

  • The Culture Collection of Algae and Protozoa - A Living Resource
    Day, J. G.
    The Biology Curator, Issue 3, pages 20 - 23

    The primary remit of a protist collection, in this case micro-algae and free-living non-pathogenic protozoa, is broadly similar to that of other collections of biological material, that is to act as a depository and to make the material accessible for end-users, effectively a genebank. At the Culture Collection of Algae and Protozoa (CCAP), one of the UK microbial service collections, this involves collecting, maintaining and preserving the protists, and providing viable, authentic, documented cultures and their associated information to the scientific community.

    The live cultures form the core of the collection. Their scientific value primarily lies in their current and past use in taxonomic and other research fields and the extensive literature published citing CCAP strain numbers. In terms of conservation of biodiversity, the collection arguably encompasses one of the largest degrees of biodiversity which can be found in any collection or genebank. This is particularly true for the algal collection which currently
    includes representatives of 50% of the algal species lodged in culture collections worldwide. They are also widely employed in teaching science at both secondary and tertiary levels of education.

    The commercial value of cultures is more difficult to quantify. For those which are regularly employed commercially eg. Selenastrum capricornutum CCAP 278/4, which is used in ecotoxicity testing, a value could be calculated using its potential income generation from sales. Other commercially used organisms eg. those screened for novel pharmaceuticals, have the potential to generate substantial income, however the likelihood of a product
    being developed is low, even where pharmaceutical activities are observed. Most strains held in any major collection are probably of little direct commercial value, however, their scientific value and the costs which would be incurred in replacing the culture should it then be required demonstrates the necessity for their retention in the collection.

    This paper discusses the above points in fuller detail and also focuses on the additional implications of maintaining a culture in a live or a preserved state.