--FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE--
October 25, 2011
Bigelow Laboratory Announces New Name for the Nation’s “Living Library” of Marine Algae
MINNEAPOLIS, MN –Speaking at the 2011 Algal Biomass Summit here today, researchers from Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, a global ocean research center on the Maine coast, announced the new name for its internationally known library of living, single-celled marine algae. Now called the Provasoli-Guillard National Center for Marine Algae and Microbiota, or NCMA, the center acquires and preserves strains of marine phytoplankton (single-celled, free-drifting plants), seaweeds, marine bacteria, and marine viruses throughout the ocean, growing and shipping live cultures and related products to scientists around the world. Currently, there are over 2,700 algal strains housed at the NCMA.
Bigelow Emeritus Scientist Dr. Robert Guillard, a phytoplankton specialist and pioneer of algal culturing techniques, established the facility at the Laboratory in 1981. Congress subsequently designated it as the nation’s official phytoplankton repository in the Oceans Act of 1992 (P. L. 102-587). In the years since, it became known to the international scientific community simply as the “CCMP,” short for the Provasoli-Guillard Center for Culture of Marine Phytoplankton.
“The CCMP name is being changed to Provasoli-Guillard National Center for Marine Algae and Microbiota to reflect the addition of marine bacteria and viruses,” said Dr. Susan Brawley, President of the Phycological Society of America and a Professor in the School of Marine Sciences at the University of Maine.
“The addition of microbiota to the collection and name is especially fitting, given Luigi Provasoli’s discoveries over 50 years ago that many algae require associations with bacteria to grow normally,” she said.
This will become the world’s first integrated collection of these incredibly abundant, but little known, life forms,” said NCMA Director Dr. Willie Wilson.
“What’s critically important, though, is that the CCMP identifier will remain on all algal strains, ensuring continuity with current, past, and future research,” he added.
Dr. Wilson is sharing the stage at the Algal Biomass Organization’s (ABO) meeting with Dr. Jerry Brand, Director of the UTEX Culture Collection of Algae, to discuss what the nation's culture collections can do for the algal biomass community. “With a combined expertise of 88 years in the algal culturing business, the national algal culture collections in the United States underpin much of the knowledge behind growing both marine (NCMA) and freshwater (UTEX) algae,” Wilson explained.
Drawing on a diverse pool of scientific expertise at Bigelow Laboratory, the NCMA works with academic organizations and the aquaculture, biomedical, and biofuel industries, providing services that include sales of algae and algal growth media, lipid profiling and molecular taxonomic identification, and screening for natural products.
This November, the NCMA is moving to new quarters in East Boothbay, Maine, as part of the Bigelow Center for Blue Biotechnology (BCBB) on the Laboratory’s 64-acre Ocean Science and Education Campus. Its new home, made possible in part by a major award from the Maine Technology Asset Fund in 2009, will provide spacious and secure facilities for large growth chambers, a laboratory specifically designed to run sponsored research projects, and a seawater hall that will allow mass algal culture production of up to 5,000 liters (over 1,320 gallons).
“NCMA’s new facility will be an excellent home for this important resource,” said Bigelow Laboratory Executive Director Dr. Graham Shimmield. “It will greatly enhance our ability to serve the international research community and advance scientific understanding of the benefits that microbial ecosystems can offer in the future.”
Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences is an independent, non-profit center for global ocean research, ocean science education, and technology transfer. A recognized leader in Maine's emerging innovation economy, the Laboratory’s research ranges from microbial oceanography to the large-scale biogeochemical processes that drive ocean ecosystems and global environmental conditions.
The 2011 ABO Summit runs from October 24 to 27, bringing researchers and industry together to cultivate relationships that will lead to viable technologies and commercial markets for renewable and sustainable products derived from algae.
Dr. Willie Wilson is hosting a trade stand during the conference, and can be contacted at Booth #722.