About UTEX - History, Structure, and Purposes

History, Structure, and Purposes

The Culture Collection of Algae at the University of Texas at Austin, herein designated as UTEX, has been in continuous operation since 1953. It was established by Richard C. Starr at Indiana University and was moved to its present site in 1976. Dr. Starr was the Director of UTEX from its inception until his untimely death in February of 1998, at which time Dr. Jerry J. Brand became the Director.

The principal resource of UTEX is its extensive collection of living algae. Over 3,000 different strains of algae, representing approximately 200 different genera, are provided to the public for a modest charge. The Collection maintains an especially strong representation of freshwater and soil algae. Green algae and cyanobacteria are prominent, but UTEX contains representatives of most 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 maintained. Approximately half of UTEX strains are axenic and all cultures for public distribution are unialgal.

The Culture Collection of Algae is administrated as an Organized Research Unit of the University of Texas at Austin through the College of Natural Sciences. Its principal administrative officer is a Director who is responsible for establishing and enforcing policies regarding the management of UTEX. The resources of UTEX are managed through a Curator. The primary duties of UTEX staff are transferring cultures to fresh media on regular schedules, shipping cultures to users, keeping records related to sales and inventory, preparing media, and managing glassware.

The principal function of UTEX is the maintenance of its diverse stock of living algae in order to make cultures available at modest cost to a user community worldwide. 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.