Draft FAQs


  • Basics

  • What do the UTEX catalogue prefixes mean?
    Prefix Definition
    LB xenic culture maintained in liquid medium
    B xenic culture maintained on an agar slant
    (no prefix) axenic culture maintained on an agar slant
  • What does the prefix 'LB' mean?

    A xenic culture maintained in liquid media.

  • What does the prefix 'B' mean?

    A xenic culture maintained on an agar slant.

  • What does it mean if there isn't a prefix?

    Axenic culture maintained on an agar slant.

  • What does "axenic" mean?

    Unialgal culture that is free of contamination.

  • What does "xenic" mean?

    Unialgal culture that may contain bacterial and/or fungal contamination.

  • What is the density/cell concentration of the cultures you ship out?

    UTEX does not guarantee a specific cell density for our living algal strains (10 mL agar or 15 mL liquid), or on our bulk microalgae cultures (500 mL or 1000 mL). It has been shown that cultures shipped at a high density do not respond as well to the environmental stresses caused by shipping, unlike less dense cultures. The main goal for UTEX is to send the cultures to our customers as quickly as possible to ensure a high viability of the strains. Each strain grows differently, even strains of the same species, which make it difficult to create a set standard. In a few cases, UTEX may have done some experiments on a particular strain and may be able to provide a rough estimate, but we still cannot make any guarantees.

  • I do not have access to an autoclave or laminar flow hood. How can I keep everything sterile?

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  • How do I care for my culture once I receive it?

    The screw-cap should be loosened, not removed to allow for gas exchange and if this practice is not customary in your laboratory a note next to the culture may be a good idea. Place the culture tube in an appropriately lighted room or incubator and provide a photoperiod of 16 hours light: 8 hours dark. The culture should be kept at room temperature or 20 °C unless noted in the culture notes.

    Those who receive cultures are encouraged to duplicate within reason the conditions used in the Collection, when handling newly acquired cultures, to reduce the chance of losing the culture. After a stock culture is established, subcultures may be used for testing other conditions. Visit the UTEX Culture Maintenance page for additional information and specifications utilized at UTEX.

  • What type of vessel should I use to grow algae?

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  • How long will the living algal strain last?

    Cultures should last a few weeks, maybe months, depending on the strain as long as the culture has proper care.

  • Can I keep my algae in the refrigerator?

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  • Can I place my algae under continuous light?

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  • How can I get my culture to grow faster?

    We do not aim for optimum growth here at UTEX. Investigators are urged to consult the available literature for alternative media, shaking, or CO2 infusion if optimum growth is an important consideration in their research.

  • What are the conditions utilized at UTEX?

    General conditions utilized by UTEX can be found on our Culture Maintenance Guides page.

  • Can a UTEX algal strain be grown under different conditions than those used at UTEX? Temperature, lighting, culturing media, etc. ?

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  • The culture I want is not available for ordering.

    UTEX algal cultures are living organisms whose availability can change from week to week. Cultures are removed from the online catalog if they are not considered healthy or if they are being cleaned of contamination. Recovering a culture, or bringing a culture back to health again, is labor intensive. It can take anywhere from 4 weeks to a few months before an organism is successfully recovered.


    You can request to be placed on a notification list for any particular UTEX strain that is not currently available for ordering. When the strain is recovered, UTEX will send an email notifying you of the update.

  • Should I aerate or agitate my cultures with air and/or CO2?

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  • Can you tell me how to grow my algae?

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  • Will my culture grow on agar?

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  • Will my culture grow in liquid?

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  • Why is my culture not growing?

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  • What is a toxic strain?

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  • I cannot find a UTEX culture?

    UTEX algal cultures are living organisms whose availability can change from week to week. Cultures are removed from the online catalog if they are not considered healthy or if they are being cleaned of contamination. Recovering a culture, or bringing a culture back to health again, is labor intensive. It can take anywhere from 4 weeks to a few months before an organism is successfully recovered.


    You can request to be placed on a notification list for any particular UTEX strain that is not currently available for ordering. When the strain is recovered, UTEX will send an email notifying you of the update.

  • Pricing

  • How much does a culture cost?


    All cultures are the same price, except for cultures ordered through Algae Express. All US academic and US government users are charged US $60 per tube and all other users are charged US $120 per tube. Algae Express cultures cost $180 per tube.


    Academic and Government Institutions within the United States should enter one of the following discount codes at the checkout screen. You must include the name of the institute you are affiliated with under the 'Company' field in order to qualify. 


    ⚬ US Academic: us/acad

    ⚬ US Government: us/gov

  • Do you offer an academic discount?

    Academic and Government Institutions within the United States should enter one of the following discount codes at the checkout screen. You must include the name of the institute you are affiliated with under the 'Company' field in order to qualify. 


    ⚬ US Academic: us/acad

    ⚬ US Government: us/gov



    The discount is only available for strains in the Living Algal Strains Collection (non-Algae Express).

  • How much is it to ship to my country?
    $25 USD Continental USA
    $45 USD Alaska, Hawaii, Canada, Mexico, & Puerto Rico
    $55 USD South America
    $60 USD Europe, Australia, & New Zealand
    $65 USD Asia
    $75 USD South Africa
  • Ordering

  • Ordering Policies

    Individuals/Commercial Companies
    Orders that are purchased by individuals or commercial companies are required to pay in advance. Any exception must be approved in writing (fax or contact form) by UTEX before the order can be processed.

    Academic/Government Institutions
    Academic or government institutions are requested to pay before their order is processed. However, institutions that maintain separate shipping and billing addresses may pay after receipt of their order. A purchase order number and the address to which the bill should be sent must be provided (preferably by fax) on a business letterhead with the order. Full payment is due within 30 days of receipt of the order.

  • Can I order algal culturing media with specific modifications to the recipe?

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  • What is the status of my order?

    You can look up your order by entering the order number (ex. #UTEX0001) and email address used to place the order here.

  • How To Order
  • Can I order culture volumes greater than 1 Liter?

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  • Can I order cultures on agar plates?

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  • Some of my cultures will take longer to grow than others, can I get multiple shipments?

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  • I am going to need cultures in a few months - can I order them now?

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  • Can I buy UTEX cultures from other places?

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  • Can I place a rush order?

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  • How do I cancel my order?

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  • My institution requires a proforma invoice, how do I get one?

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  • Can I get a quote?

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  • Can I place a purchase order?

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  • Can I pay by check?

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  • Can I pay by bank transfer (wire)?

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  • Can I pay with an American Express or Discover card?

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  • Who pays duty fees/taxes/VAT?

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  • Shipping

  • Shipping Policy

    Orders are only shipped on Mondays (or Tuesday following a Monday holiday). No cultures are shipped during the weeks of Christmas and New Year's Day. Visit the Shipping and Replacement Policies page for additional information.

  • When will I receive my order?

    Regular Orders (non-Algae Express)
    Orders are shipped on a weekly basis. Regular (non-Algae Express) orders placed by Wednesday, 5 pm CST, are shipped the following Monday. If there is a U.S. national holiday that falls on a Monday, orders will be shipped the next business day.


    Algae Express Orders
    Algae Express orders are only available to ship within the continental United States via UPS Next Day Air. Ordering deadlines for this service are Monday-Thursday (excluding U.S. Holidays) between 8:00 AM - 12:00 PM (Noon) CST. Orders placed on Fridays will not ship out until the next available business day. Algae Express is currently not available for international orders and U.S. customers outside of the contiguous United States. UTEX continues to look into expanding the availability of this service to our customers outside of the continental United States.

  • How do you ship DNA/RNA?

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  • Why can't cultures be shipped by ground?

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  • How are cultures packaged?

    Preparation of Shipment

    Agar and liquid cultures for an order are packaged within a Styrofoam™ box and shipped on the same day they are packed. UTEX makes no attempt to quantify the number of organisms or other characteristics of the culture. UTEX only guarantees the identity of the organism as specified in the strain history.

    Agar Cultures
    Aliquots of algal strains that are maintained on agar slants are transferred to the surface of fresh slants in 20-mm diameter glass screw-cap tubes in preparation for shipment. The fresh inocula are grown in a diurnal light cycle for at least 3 days until a macroscopically visible lawn appears.

    Liquid Cultures
    Approximately 15 mL aliquots of strains that are maintained as liquid cultures are transferred to screw-cap tubes on the day of shipment.

  • Can I pick up my cultures at your lab?

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  • How are cold strains shipped?

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  • How soon can my order be shipped?

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  • Why does it take so long for my order to ship?

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  • What documents are required for shipments to locations outside the US?

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  • Replacements

  • Replacement Policy and Requests

    All requests for replacement strains must be submitted to the UTEX Culture Collection Manager within 48 hours of receiving your package.  Visit the Shipping and Replacement Policies page for additional information.

    Replacement Request Form
  • My cultures were dead on arrival, can I get replacements?

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  • I received my order, but one or more of the items is incorrect.

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  • How long do I have to request a replacement?

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  • Other

  • Why is the algae name sometimes different than what other places call it?

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  • Can I get MSDS sheets?

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  • Can I get a health certificate?

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  • What is the salinity of the seawater used at UTEX? Where does it come from?

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  • Can I use artificial seawater?

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  • How is your seawater filtered, prepared, and sterilized?

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  • What are the components of UTEX algal culturing media?

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  • Can I modify the recipe of UTEX algal culturing media?

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  • Can I re-sterilize the media?

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  • How do you test for contamination at UTEX?

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  • What is a Snow Algae strain?

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  • What is an Extreme Environment strain?

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  • What is a Freshwater Diatom strain?

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  • What is a Salt Plains strain?

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  • What is a NAABB strain?

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  • What is a "Cryo Only" strain?

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  • What is an Algae Express strain?

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  • How do I cryopreserve my strain?

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  • Why can I not store my strain at -80 ° C?

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