UTEX Culture Collection of Algae at The University of Texas Living Algae Holdings
The Culture Collection of Algae at The University of Texas at Austin (UTEX) is a successor to a collection of algal cultures begun in the 1920s by E.G. Pringsheim. Richard C. Starr studied with Pringsheim in 1953 at Cambridge, U.K, where he was provided nearly 400 strains of green algae to serve as the basis for the Indiana University Culture Collection of Algae (IUCC). This Collection of living algae was expanded, diversified, and then moved to its present site as UTEX in 1976. R. Starr served as Director of UTEX from its inception until 1998, after which Jerry Brand has served as Director. The IUCC was first funded by Indiana University and the Eli Lilly Corporation. Cultures of living algae were provided to requesters free of charge for pure research and educational purposes, at the discretion of the Director. NSF support was begun in approximately 1963, when the Collection became a public repository and a modest charge for cultures was implemented. The majority of funding for UTEX operational costs is obtained through the sales of products and services, but the Collection is also supported by the National Science Foundation and The University of Texas at Austin. UTEX houses approximately 3,000 distinct strains of living algae. Most strains are microscopic unicells, filaments, or colonial algae isolated from soil and freshwater. However, UTEX also maintains marine and macrophytic algal strains. The majority of strains are obligate photoautotrophs, but the Collection also houses a number of facultative and obligate heterotrophs. The green algae are disproportionately represented. However, all major taxa of algae are represented in the Collection. Over 85% of UTEX strains are unique to this collection. UTEX currently maintains 470 type species, approximately half of which are also maintained in one or more other publicly-accessible collections. All UTEX strains are unialgal. Approximately 20% are currently maintained axenically on agar slants. Others are cultured in liquid media, typically carrying small amounts of bacteria. All strains of algae maintained at UTEX are from natural sources. UTEX does not currently include patented or proprietary stock. This allows UTEX to send cultures to users with a minimum of legal restrictions. The UTEX web site (URL www.utex.org), updated weekly, includes a complete listing of available UTEX stock cultures, organized alphabetically by genus and numerically by accession number.