“Under a microscope a drop of the algae sample is added to a drop of culture media using an extended fine tip mini pastette.”
The Algal Culture Collection in Plymouth was founded over 100 years ago and the very first culture started at the centre is still alive and well today.
Around 500 different strains of algae of the 40,000 species known worldwide are maintained in the Plymouth laboratory. Forty of these were isolated at this laboratory.
Samples arrive at the laboratory from any algae of interest including harmful algal blooms. Under a microscope a drop of the algae sample is added to a drop of culture media using an extended fine tip mini pastette.
The samples are grown up and the process repeated until a pure culture is achieved.The collection originally grew cultures to supply fish farms to feed larvae and shellfish.Today algae is widely recognised as an important organism in our ecosystem.
50 to 70% of the oxygen we breathe comes from algae, and being at the bottom of the food chain, it maintains many other species. Commercially algae is used in cosmetics, pigments, bio-fuels and fatty acids.
The laboratory at Plymouth sends live cultures all over the world for research and commercial purposes.
Cultures will thrive given the right light and temperature conditions, and need to be sub-cultured regularly.
Maria Jutson told us:
“We use sterile 3ml graduated Pastettes for subculturing in flasks and the Jumbo Pastette for tubes. They are very easy to use, and the quality is never in doubt. We have tried products from other suppliers over the years but there are always some pipettes where the end is sealed, or the bulb squashed. Sometimes the bag has lost all it’s air so is clearly no longer sterile.
I can’t remember the last time I had a problem like this with an Alpha Pastette.”
Maria Jutson – Manager Plymouth Algal Culture Collection
Marine Biological Association