Microalgae culture collection

Bente Edvardsen
University of Oslo

Microalgae form the basis in marine ecosystems. Understanding their diversity and their environmental preferences for growth is of utmost importance when attempting to foresee how environmental changes might impact and potentially alter marine food webs.

The Nansen Legacy will contribute with new mono-algal strains from the northern Barents Sea to the Norwegian Culture Collection of Algae (NORCCA),  where they will be maintained and made available for all interested scientists for further studies.

So far, the project has isolated about 150 algal strains, which are now being characterized genetically by DNA-sequencing and morphologically by light and electron microscopy and placed taxonomically by phylogenetic analyses.

Of 100 genetically characterized strains, 66 are diatoms, 18 are dinoflagellates, five are chlorophytes, five are cryptophytes, one is a haptophyte and six are picoalgal strains which are not yet taxonomically assigned. Seventy of the strains were isolated from ice stations in the Arctic Ocean and 30 from the open water stations in the Barents Sea.

Their DNA sequences will be used to connect genotypes to morphotypes and to improve the reference databases used during metabarcoding analyses to reveal the protist community composition. New species for science will be described and their biogeographical distribution examined, to assess if any taxa are endemic to the Arctic.