• Technician Cecilia Rad Menendez inside one of the temperature and light controlled rooms that house our algal collection
    Europe's largest collection of algae & protists
    3,000 live strains
    a UK national capability
  • Image of a pennate diatom taken with a scanning electron microscope
    Supporting research
    for food technology, biofuels, aquaculture and climate studies

Culture Collection of Algae and Protozoa (CCAP)

With 3000 strains of marine and freshwater algae, protists and seaweeds, ' Culture Collection of Algae and Protozoa is the most diverse collection of its kind in the world.

CCAP provides cyanobacterial, protistan and macro-algal cultures, bioinformatic data, services and advice to the scientific community world-wide. Businesses, researchers and educators can purchase cultures from CCAP via our public , which contains 2,600 of our cultures.

CCAP is a national service culture collection (also called a Biological Resource Centre) funded by the Natural Environment Research Council as part of the UK's scientific infrastructure.

It contributes in several ways to the UN's s (see image below) and provides researchers with the support and tools to deliver world leading environmental science.


In phylogenetic terms, CCAP is the most diverse culture collection in the world, with 3000 strains of marine and freshwater algae, protists and seaweeds from across the globe including a growing collection of seaweed pathogens.

Some of these cultures have been in cultivation for over a century while others have been added in the past few months - we frequently isolate new strains to add to the collection.

The collection is made up of a wide range of taxa including cyanobacteria, eukaryotic phytoplankton, thalloid red algae, multicellular seaweeds, free-living non-pathogenic protozoa, and a small number of potentially pathogenic protozoa.

Strains are primarily maintained by serial sub-culture although about 30% of the algal strains and 2% of the protozoan strains are cryopreserved to maximise genetic stability.

CCAP also offers a wide range of services in addition to maintaining the collection and supplying cultures and media. We

  • >can accept standard deposits of cultures of algae and free-living, non-pathogenic protozoa
  • >curate deposits of valuable strains for confidential safekeeping for the depositor
  • >as an International Depository Authority (IDA) CCAP also accepts strains of (a) freshwater and terrestrial algae and cyanobacteria; (b) non-pathogenic free-living protozoa; and (c) marine algae and cyanobacteria other than large seaweeds for the purposes of patent procedure
  • >provide microscopic and/or molecular identification
  • >prepare DNA extracts

CCAP is among the world's best equipped culture collections. Seven staff service the collection. 

Culturing facilities

The CCAP culturing facilities include four constant temperature rooms and several individual incubators, providing illuminated culturing for the range of 2-20oC. There are also three laminar flow cabinets for aseptic culturing and one class II cabinet for pathogenic strains.


Zeiss Axio Imager with high quality DIC and phase objectives and digital camera

Inverted Axiovert

Inverted Zeiss

Other stereo and upright microscopes

Zeiss digital microscope camera


Planer controlled rate freezer Kryo 360

Cryo storage area

Media preparation

Large front loading autoclave

Elga pure water supply

Miele laboratory dishwasher


pH meter


Molecular equipment

Thermocycler (PCR) machine

Mechanical bead grinder (cell disrupter)

Electrophoresis gel trays


Water bath

Block heater

As a component of the UK's scientific infrastructure CCAP provides cultures, bioinformatic data, services and advice to the scientific community world-wide. Funding to use CCAP as a base for external research becomes frequently available through transnational programmes such as EMBRIC.

The facility can support research in the following areas:

  • >algal biofuel
  • >biotechnology
  • >biodiversity
  • >food safety (eg toxic algae)
  • >ecotoxicology
  • >mariculture
  • >biomarkers (eg for palaeo-environmental changes)
  • >collection genomics and barcoding
  • >cryopreservation of protists and cyanobacteria
  • >the physiology and taxonomy of various strains in the collection
  • >algal pathogens
  • >algal and protistan symbionts

At CCAP is closely associated in Dr Claire Gachon's algal diseases research, Dr Michele Stanley's biotech studies, Dr David Green's research into symbiosis, Professor Mike Zubkov's work on the microbial food chain and Dr Tom Brown's work on Arctic algae and biomarkers.

A painting of the founder of our culture collection, Ernst G PringsheimThe foundations of CCAP were laid by Professor Ernst Georg Pringsheim (see painting). Professor Pringsheim and his collaborators, Victor Czurda and Felix Mainx, isolated a number of cultures at the Botanical Institute of the German University of Prague in the 1920s. In response to the Nazi invasion of Prague Pringsheim and his cultures moved to England where the collection was expanded and eventually taken over by E A George for Cambridge University in 1947.

In 1970 these cultures formed the basis of the Culture Centre of Algae and Protozoa at Cambridge, financed by the Natural Environment Research Council. During 1986 the freshwater algal and all protozoan cultures and their associated activities were transferred to the Institute of Freshwater Ecology (now ) at the Windermere Laboratory at Ambleside while the marine algae moved to Oban to join the Association's collection assembled by Dr Michael Droop (see photo). These moves represented a relocation of the Centre to the two Institutes both with long-standing and continuing research activities in phycology, protozoology and other aspects of aquatic science. As the collection was now held at two locations rather than a single centre, it was renamed the Culture Collection of Algae and Protozoa, retaining the acronym CCAP.

In early 2004 the freshwater section of CCAP relocated to Scotland to join the marine section at . CCAP, united once again as a single collection, occupies a custom-designed facility within the European Centre for Marine Biotechnology. 

As a national facility/capability CCAP continues to receive its major funding from the Natural Environment Research Council.

Dr Droop in the laboratory at Dunstaffnage developing cultivation methodsThe Collection functions as the national service collection of algae and protozoa in the UK and is linked with other service collections worldwide via the World Federation for Culture Collections (WFCC). There is liaison between collections within Europe via the European Culture Collections' Organization (ECCO) and nationally via the United Kingdom Federation for Culture Collections (UKFCC). In 1997 the United Kingdom National Culture Collection (UKNCC) was established to co-ordinate some of the marketing and research activities of the UK's nine major public domain culture collections, including CCAP.  In 2001 the UKNCC published the CCAP catalogue.

We recommend the following papers to anyone with an interest in the history of culture collections:

Day JG, Lukavsky, Friedl, T, Brand JJ, Campbell CN, Lorenz M and Elser J (2004) Pringsheim's living legacy: CCALA, CCAP, SAG and UTEX culture collections of algae. Nova Hedwigia 79 (1-2): 27-37

Mollenhauer, D (2003) The Protistologist Ernst Georg Pringsheim and his Four Lives. Protist 154: 157-171

Head shot of CCAP administrator Rachel SaxonPlease contact CCAP administrator Rachel Saxon:

E: ccap@sams.ac.uk

T: +44 (0) 1631 559 268