Freshwater Algae Culture Collection at the Institute of Hydrobiology
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  • Phone:0086-27-68780871
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Freshwater Algae Culture Collection at the Institute of Hydrobiology
No. 7 Donghu South Road
Wuchang District
Hubei Province
About us

    The Freshwater Algae Culture Collection at the Institute of Hydrobiology (FACHB-collection) is a professional biological resource and utilization of living algae. In China, freshwater algal resource-related researches and application have gradually expanded due to the interests of regionally and internationally. In the era of ever-increasing demanding both for high-valued living algal strains and expertise of algal cultivation and related knowledge, which are being pushed by research and industry, in particularly, algal bio-diesel exploration, algal culture collections are playing active roles in the exploitation of utility of algae as a resource. The mission of the FACHB includes 1. Collection, isolation & purification of algal species; 2. Maintenance & preservation of the algal species; 3. Development of techniques relating to preservation, cultivation, etc.; 4. Development of database of algal strains with economical & environmental importance; 5. Provide services to scientific & industrial communities.

 History and Development

    From 1950s, Prof. Shanghao Li established an algal culture collection in the Institute of Hydrobiology (IHB) what later became the FACHB-collection. From 1973-1995, Prof. Minjuan Yu was the first director of the FACHB-collection who contributed a great deal to the development of the collection. Since 1996, Prof. Lirong Song has been the director and in charge of operation of the unit.

    The development of FACHB-collection has been driven not only by the demanding of algal species for basic study, but also by different applied purposes. At the beginning the purpose of the culture collection was mainly to support the fundamental and applied researches in the Department of Phycology of the Institute of Hydrobiology. In the 1960’s, based on the wide range of investigation and surveys on the distribution of nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria in the Department of Phycology, a great deal of microalgae, especially nitrogen-fixing cyanobacterial strains, were isolated and kept into FACHB-collection. In the 1970’s, the problem of worldly protein food shortage was continuously raised and the single-cell protein was then thought to be a solution to the problem. The FACHB-collection therefore concentrated on the isolation of unicellular algae, especially focused on the isolation of green algae and diatoms. In the 1980’s, when environmental problems such as eutrophication of lakes and water pollution became more and more severe, the FACHB-collection focused on increasing the strains of freshwater harmful or toxic algae. Over the last two decades, due to the rapid development of algal biotechnology, our collection has also accumulated wide range of species with direct or potentially utility.

    In 1995, the FACHB-collection became the member of the Type Culture Collection Committee of Chinese Academy of Sciences , the committe was renamed as Chinese Academy of Wildlife Germplasm Banks in 2010. The FACHB-collection was a member of World Data Centre for Microorganisms (WDCM, in 2004 (WDCM No. 873) and founding member of the Network of Asia Oceania Algae Culture Collections (AOACC, in 2004.


Maintenance and Service of Strains

    The FACHB-collection currently holds more than 2000 strains, belonging to over 120 genera, 8 phyla. It preserves numerous freshwater species apart from a small number of marine and brackish species. Concerning the diversity of the species, a great deal of species or strains was arisen from regions of terrestrial/ desert habitats and eutrophic freshwater bodies occupied mostly by bloom-forming cyanobacteria. With the aid of abundant selection and expertise in cultivation techniques, freshwater algal resource-related researches and application have gradually expanded. Most of strains were maintained by subculturing under optimal conditions mostly ranging from 15℃ to 25℃ and 4 to 40 μmol·m-2·s-1 photon flux density in a 12-h-light:12-h-dark photo-regime. Most strains are serially transferred at 1-month to 3-month (av. 2-month) intervals. Every strain usually has four copies: one in flask in liquid culture media, three in test-tube in liquid or solid culture media. Some strains, including cyanobacteria and green algae are being kept in liquid nitrogen.

    As the main algal culture collection in China, the FACHB-collection dispatched  1469 strains to users corresponding to 206 affiliations in 2012. The numbers of strains distribution were steadly increasing since 2005. Though the majority of the orders were from the academic background such as colleges, universities and institutes, we can see the increasing share from outside of academic, such as environmental, aquacutural and industrial background. In recent years, it is estimated that Microcystis, Chlorella and Scenedesmus were among the best-selling genera. About 40% of all orders per year were used for water environmental research and bioremediation; meanwhile, about 30% of all orders per year were used for bioenergy and biofuel production research.

Infrastructures and staff

    The FACHB-collection moved to a new laboratory building in 2011, which covered an area of 280 m2. There are 3 culture rooms with different temperatures which could accommodate 10,000 strains, 1 cryopreservation room, 1 transfer room, 1 special species culture rooms and 1 experiment room. In general, the facilities are well equipped and sufficient for the routine operation and maintenance of the cultures.

    There are 7 full-time staff in the FACHB-collection, including director, one algal taxonomist and 5 technicians. Besides, it is worth noting that there is a research center named Center for Algal Biology and Applied Research in the Institute, consisting of 10 principle investigators specialized in taxonomy, molecular biology, biochemistry, cell biology, terrestrial and arid algae, harmful algae, diatom, algal resource and toxicity, etc. This structure is mutual beneficial to both of FACHB-Collection and the research center.


 Cooperation and Exchanges

    Dated back to earlier 1980’s, the former director Prof. Minjuan Yu had spent about 2 years in UTEX culture collection as a visiting scholar. Prof. Jindong Zhao, currently the director of the Institute of Hydrobiology, obtained his Ph.D. under supervision of Prof. Jerry Brand, the current director of the UTEX. The late director of UTEX, Prof. Richard Starr helped many Chinese phycologists and successfully organized several bilateral symposiums on phycological studies. His support and guidance to the development of our culture collection is well acknowledged (Starr and Zeikus 1993, Song et al. 1999). During 1990’s, Prof. Makoto Watanabe, the former director of NIES-Collection, organized a network among the algal culture collections in Asian countries within the ANMR(Asian Network of Microbial Research), promoting a great deal in the capacity building and knowledge exchange. The network was then transformed into AOACC-Asia Oceania Algal Culture Collection. Besides, FACHB-collection keeps a close contact with colleagues from other algal culture collection and related phycologists. From 2009 to 2012, the Sino-Korea Joint Symposium on bioresource preservation and exploitation has been held 4 times, co-organized by FACHB-collection and Korean National Research Resource Center (KNRRC).

Copyright© Freshwater Algae Culture Collection of the Institute of Hydrobiology.
Since 1 June 2013