[USA] For over 30 years, the Provasoli-Guillard National Center for Marine Algae and Microbiota (NCMA) (previously the Provasoli-Guillard Center for Culture of Marine Phytoplankton, CCMP), has been accessioning algae strains provided by you, the community, into your public collection. Our mission is to maintain these strains as healthy cultures and simplify the process of distributing these strains back to you, giving you the opportunity to purchase any of the nearly 3,000 algal cultures held by the NCMA. Indeed, with your help and support the NCMA has grown to become one of the largest and most diverse collections of marine microalgae in the world. We openly share our collective experiences in growing these algae, and we successfully ship over 2000 strains to our customers all over the world every year.
Have you ever wondered how NCMA has been able to provide these services? The short answer is a combination of culture sales revenue and substantial financial support from the National Science Foundation (NSF). While the move to our new and more expansive facilities at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences Ocean Research and Education campus has been a great plus for NCMA and your culture collection, this came with the cost of a three-fold increase in overhead expenses. In addition, during this time of fiscal belt-tightening within federal funding agencies, annual NSF support of your public collection has been scaled back by a factor of 2.5. For the NCMA and its staff, it is all about providing you the best service we can. Thus, these very significant financial challenges have forced the NCMA to change our collection management and business models in order to continue providing you the superior service you are accustomed to and deserve.
We view these changes as synergistic with each other. From the business model point of view we now have to operate more like a business, providing new products and services based upon community feedback, and seeking new sources of revenue to offset the reduction in federal support. From a collection management point of view, we have done everything we can think of to streamline and manage your collection, including a very robust cryopreservation effort. However, we must proactively manage the ‘books’ in our living library in an effort to keep core activity expenses at a minimum so we can continue to operate in the manner to which you are accustomed.
As in any library, we have implemented a cull policy to sustain the vitality of the collection while maintaining its diversity. The broad actions of the cull process are to remove from the collection those algal strains that have been deposited but for one reason or another have not garnered much or any scientific interest, and to remove those strains that are of such poor quality that we could not in good conscience provide to the algal community. The cull process will be guided by the criteria detailed in the NCMA cull policy, and in no way will the cull process lead to loss of taxonomic diversity, geographical/ecological range, or scientific relevance. This process does not mean that the NCMA no longer accessions new strains; in fact it is quite the opposite. During FY14, while we culled a total of 106 existing strains, we accessioned 64 new strains!
The NCMA greatly respects the algal community and supporters of the public collection. We are very mindful of the responsibilities that we have to you the community, as you are the reason we are here. That said, we hope that you can appreciate the immense pressure the NCMA is under trying to operate as we have for 30+ years in an ever-changing environment. This is your collection and we welcome feedback on the importance of having NCMA around for another 30 years.
Click here to view the list of strains to be culled.
View original article at: NCMA cull list