The Culture Collection of Algae at the University of Texas at Austin (UTEX) is a successor to an algal collection assembled in the 1920s by E.G. Pringsheim. The founder and first Director of UTEX, Dr. Richard C. Starr studied with Pringsheim in 1953 at Cambridge, University, where he was provided nearly 400 strains of green algae that were the basis of the Indiana University Culture Collection of Algae (IUCC). This collection of living algae was expanded, diversified, and relocated to The University of Texas at Austin where it was established as an Organized Research Unit in 1976.
UTEX is one of only a handful of curated, public, biodiversity collections of living algae in the world and one of only two in the U.S. The UTEX Collection is one of the most genetically diverse assemblages of organisms available to the public and many of the algae UTEX maintains are unique and irreplaceable. It currently maintains over 3,000 unique strains of algae and includes more than 1,500 named species and 450 type species. UTEX is a repository and distribution center for algal biodiversity. Every year UTEX distributes thousands of living algal cultures and related materials, at modest cost, to scientists, educators, and students throughout the U.S. and the world.
The UTEX mission is to promote, support, and enable the use of algae for research, education, and practical applications. In order to fulfill its mission, UTEX provides living algae to a user community at modest cost; serves as a permanent public repository of newly discovered and recently described algal species of potential value representing a broad range of genetic, morphological and biochemical diversity; acts as a source of information regarding algae to practicing scientists, other professionals, and the interested public; promotes and supports local science teaching and hands-on scientific activities by school children; and provides practical training services, support services, and supplies that facilitate culturing of algae at other sites.
Principal financial support for UTEX is obtained through the sale of cultures and other goods and services to the user community. Additional support is provided through the U.S. National Science Foundation and the College of Natural Sciences of The University of Texas at Austin.