The Culture Collection for Algae and Protozoa (CCAP), based in the Scottish Highlands, has opened a new £681,641 ($716,100 US) centre. The investment comes from the UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), which also funds the collection’s core running costs.
“Currently, we have limited capability in providing larger amounts of algae and associated genomic and metabolic information to researchers and innovators in the field,” said Dr. Michael Ross, the Head of CCAP. “Essentially, our customers want more biomass, they want to know what it is made of and the organism’s full genetic code.”
Based at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) in Oban, CCAP holds around 3,000 strains of microscopic organisms such as marine and freshwater algae, cyanobacteria and protozoa, as well as some seaweeds and seaweed pathogens.
The nearly 100-year-old collection, one of the oldest and most biodiverse in the world, will be at the core of a new centre for algae production and analysis, the CCAP-ARIES (Algae Research, Innovation and Environmental Science) Centre. The state-of-the-art facility will help scientists around the world to discover new products and medicines, and to understand the natural world in a changing climate.
The CCAP collection originated from the Botanical Institute of the German University of Prague in the 1920s and came to the UK at the outbreak of WWII. In 1970 these cultures formed the basis of the Culture Centre of Algae and Protozoa at Cambridge, supported by UKRI NERC. In early 2004 the freshwater section of CCAP relocated to Scotland to join the marine section at SAMS.
“Scientists around the world are looking for products useful to pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and the food and beverage industries, and algae are high on the agenda given their natural diversity and ability to grow in a sustainable way,” said Dr. Ross. “Researchers are, as well, investigating the use of algae as a fuel, for cleaning up environmental pollutants, and for their ability to absorb carbon. This investment will allow us to greatly increase sample volumes and to develop a unique ‘one-stop shop’ for environmental and innovative algal research.”
As part of the upgrade, CCAP has invested in specialized equipment to automate DNA extraction and purify DNA for genome sequencing. CCAP will collaborate with the new UK multi-million pound UKRI NERC Environmental Omics Facility (NEOF) to further enhance the analytical potential of its service.
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