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 1st 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 then moved to its present site and renamed UTEX in 1976.
The principal resource of UTEX is its extensive collection of living algae. Over 3,000 different strains of algae, representing more than 500 genera, are provided to the public for a modest charge. The Collection maintains an especially strong representation of freshwater and soil algae. Green algae, diatoms, and cyanobacteria are prominent, but UTEX contains representatives of all major algal taxa, including marine macrophytic green and red algae. All strains in the Collection were obtained as isolates from natural sources, and no genetically altered strains are currently maintained. Approximately half of UTEX strains are axenic and all cultures distributed to the public are unialgal.
The UTEX mission is to promote, support, and enable the use of algae for research, education, and practical applications. Cultures in the Collection are used for research, teaching, water quality assessment, biotechnology development, food for aquatic animals and a variety of other purposes. UTEX does not impose restrictions regarding the use of purchased cultures and does not assume any responsibility for cultures that are sent away from the facility.
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.