About the Australian National Algae Culture Collection

Our collection is an internationally significant resource holding living cultures of more than 1000 microalgae strains, housed in a purpose-built facility.

The Australian National Algae Culture Collection (ANACC) holds 1000 strains of more than 300 microalgae species, housed in a purpose-built facility at our Hobart site in Tasmania.

ANACC is an internationally significant biological resource for scientific research on Australia's microalgal biodiversity.

Microalgae are the world's fastest growing plants.

We supply microalgae cultures to industry and the research sector globally, as well as undertake our own research activities focusing on Australia's biodiversity, environmental issues and bioapplications of algae.

What are microalgae?

Microalgae are microscopic plants inhabiting the world’s oceans and other aquatic environments.

Microalgae are responsible for at least half of global primary productivity, which involves converting solar energy to organic energy and fixing carbon dioxide in the process.

They are the world's fastest-growing plants and can double their biomass daily, providing essential nutrition for aquatic animals, including omega-3 oils and other lipids, proteins and carbohydrates.

Microalgae are rich in bioactive compounds and a source of genes for unique biosynthetic pathways, yet are a largely untapped resource, with only 10 per cent of some 40,000 species isolated and cultured.

These plants are a renewable resource for human health and nutrition, biofuels and other energy, medical and industrial applications, and can be mass-produced with appropriate growth technologies.

Algae cultures in our collection.

Our algal culture facility

ANACC is housed in a purpose-built, Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (QC2) and Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (PC2) accredited facility that includes controlled-environment rooms and cabinets.

Our algal culture technologies range from small to large laboratory scale and include 50-litre photobioreactors and fermenters and our associated analytical facilities provide advanced algal research capacity.

What good is algae anyway?

Show transcript

Algae, it might look like slime, goo or even snot. But this stuff is one of the most important life forms on the planet. Hi, I’m Ian, and I'm the curator of the Australian National Algae Culture Collection.

While there are many types of algae, from big seaweed to tiny phytoplankton, here at the Algae Culture Collection we focus on microalgae, the single celled organisms that can be found in most bodies of water, but have also been found on land, soil, snow, hot springs, on animals, on corals and jellyfish and even in clouds.

Here at our living library we have over 1000 strains of microalgae comprising of 300 species.

The algae are stored in controlled environment rooms and cabinets. They grow in culture flasks under specialised lighting and at set temperatures. Most microalgae generate their own food through photosynthesis just like common plants, but we still need to feed them their favourite nutrients like nitrogen and phosphate to keep them growing.

These awesome tubes are bioreactors. They allow us to grow super high volumes of microalgae because we can really optimise the growing conditions.

Here we are bubbling the culture with a mix of air and carbon dioxide, necessary for good photosynthesis.

We also get to play with some pretty cool machines and this one allows us to count the microalgae cells, which is really important in a whole range of studies we do to work out how well they're growing. Also provides information on the size of the cells.

We also supply scientists all over the world with microalgae for their research. There's a lot of research happening here at CSIRO.

For starters scientists are looking at farming algae as a source of omega-3. You might have heard that fish is high in omega-3. That's because of the algae they, or their prey, eat. And farming algae promises to be much more sustainable. They are even looking into ways to introduce omega-3s from algae into food crops. It could also be used as a biofuel as it has high level of oils which are suitable to be used as a fuel in the future.

Sometimes algae aren't so good and scientists are working on that too.

While algal blooms can be natural and harmless, some algae can grow out of control into toxic blooms. These can harm other living things in the area and can even make us sick if we come into contact with the water or eat seafood that's been affected. Scientists are also working on ways to predict when and where this occurs to try and minimise the harm.

I might be biased but I really think microalgae is super cool.

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