1. How to use the homepages

  • Using “List of strains ( Taxonomic index & Alphabetical index )” you can find the strain(s) maintained in the NIES-Collection.
  • In “Search on strains data” page, you can search the strains you want to know by entering several items; e.g. strain number, scientific name, state of strain, characteristics, size, etc.
  • In the Strain data, information such as strain number, scientific name, collection site, culture conditions, gene information, characteristics, references, etc. appears.
  • Online order: We accept order online and by regular mail. But, even if you order online, please send the original copy (with your signature and date) of the “Ordering form and agreement for distribution” to the NIES-Collection. We will ship the strains ordered only after we receive the original copy of the document.
  • Deposit of strains: We accept deposit of important strains. Please refer “How to deposit” for detailed information.
  • Documents for order and deposit are downloaded from “Download.”
  • Images: you can enjoy images of various strains maintained in the NIES-Collection in “Images of our strains,” as well as in individual Strain Data. They are available to private use for academic and educational purpose, provided the conditions in the “Copyright notice” below are fulfilled. Otherwise, please refer the “Copyright notice” below.
  • In the “Phylogenetic information” page, you can see <Tree of Life> that shows a comprehensive view of phylogenetic relationships of life, and phylogenetic trees and distribution maps of particular species maintained in the NIES-Collection.
  • Recipes and lists of algal media are shown in “Culturing information” and “Culture media” pages. Please prepare appropriate media before receipt of the strain.
  • In “What’s new” page, new accessions and update will appear.
  • In “NBRP-Algae” , activities of the National BioResource Project (NBRP) Algae appear. NBRP is a comprehensive project to establish core collections of individual organisms in Japan; which include important research materials such as mice, rats, drosophilae, rice, wheat, yeasts, etc. as well as algae, funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan.
  • In “Preservation of endangered algae”, activities of ex situ conservation of endangered algae in Japan appear. These activities have been conducted as a part of the Time-Capsule project funded by the Ministry of Environment.

2. Species name and phylogeny

Species names of the NIES strains are primarily given by depositors. On the other hand, the NIES-Collection has re-evaluated the NIES strains (mostly coccoid green algae) by DNA sequencing. In the course of the re-evaluation, we have found some strains miss identified by morphological characteristics only. For such strains, we changed species name or made a comment to suggest suitable taxonomic position. We welcome users’ comments on species name and taxonomy of the NIES strains.

3. Microcystis aeruginosa

Five morphospecies of Microcystis (M. aeruginosa, M. ichthyoblabe Kutzing, M. novacekii (Komarek) Compere , M. viridis (A. Braun) Lemmermann, and M. wesenbergii (Komarek) Komarek in Kondrateva) are commonly observed in water blooms of Japan. Recently, these five species were unified into one bacterial species, M. aeruginosa, by Otsuka et al. (2001). The NIES-Collection accepted this proposal, and strains formerly identified as above mentioned five species were changed to M. aeruginosa, but the former names are shown in Synonym or Former name of individual “Strain Data” pages.

4. NIES strains deposited from other culture collections

Most of the NIES strains have been directly deposited by researchers, whereas some strains were deposited from other culture collections by the exchange between the collections and via researchers. Strain numbers of other culture collections are shown in the “Strain Data”. However, please note that NIES strain numbers should be used when users purchase/receive those strains from the NIES-Collection.

5. Strains moved from the IAM Collection ( University of Tokyo )

Algal strains maintained in the IAM Collection, University of Tokyo, were transferred to the NIES-Collection in 2006, when the IAM Collection was closed. Among these algal strains, now 199 are available to distribution.
Please use the NIES strain numbers when you use these strains distributed from the NIES-Collection.

6. Cryopreserved strains - Methods we are using

Most of the cyanobacterial strains, a part of the green and red algal strains are preserved only in liquid nitrogen. These cryopreserved strains are indicated in the search results of “Strain list” as remarks and by marking “cryopreservation” and cricking Search button in the “Search on strains data”.
Cryopreservation is necessary for long-term preservation in culture collections, preventing contamination during repetitive transfer and genetic changes by mutation (Day & McLellan, 1995). Now, the NIES-Collection holds ca. 1,300 strains only in vapor phase of liquid nitrogen.
For these cryopreserved strains, frozen cells are thawed and inoculated into fresh medium just after the order is accepted. As a result, it takes at least one month for the overseas shipping of these strains.

Day, J. G. & DeVille, M. M. 1995 Cryopreservation of algae (Chapter 9), In Day J.G. & McLellan M.R. (eds.), Methods in Molecular Biology Vol. 38, Cryopreservation and Freeze-Drying Protocols, p.81-89, Humana Press, Totowa, USA.

4. Methods of cryopreservation
4. Special notes regarding distribution

7. Strains and their maintenance

For the number of the strains, species and genera maintained at the NIES-Collection, please refer the "Taxonomic index."
In the NIES-Collection, about 2/3 of the strains are maintained by subculturing under optimal and/or suboptimal conditions ranging from 5 to 25 °C and 4 to 50 μmol m-2 s-1 photon flux density in a 10-h-light : 14-h-dark photo-regime. The strains are serially transferred at 14 days to 6 months intervals. These maintenance conditions differ depending on algal strains. To prevent loss of the strains during maintenance by serial transfer, we check growth of the strains weekly. Once a year, we also check absence of bacteria for the axenic strains by using several bacterial check media.

8. Difficult to transport strains

Some strains, such as dinoflagellates and raphidophytes, are fragile and easy to die during transportation. Those strains are indicated as "Fragile species to transportation stresses" or "Fragile species to temperature changes" in the search results of “Strain list” and “View cart of your order” as remarks. For transport of those strains to foreign countries, we will use courier service, such as FedEx. Please understand that we need several trials for transportation of such strains successfully.

9. History

NIES-Collection (Microbial Culture Collection at the National Institute for Environmental Studies) was founded in 1983 within NIES. When the NIES-Collection was created, environmental issues such as eutrophication of lakes and rivers, air and water pollution, and human health problems caused by environmental pollution were much more severe than nowadays. The NIES-Collection started with ca. 250 strains mostly deposited by NIES scientists who were involved in environmental research and by other culture collections in Japan. Thus, red-tide-forming algae, such as Chattonella antiqua and Heterosigma akashiwo, and water-bloom-forming cyanobacteria, such as Microcystis aeruginosa were representatives at the start, and still characterize the culture collection.
In the mid-1990s, the NIES-Collection started ex situ conservation of endangered algae in Japan. In the list of Japanese endangered wildlife (the red list) compiled by the Ministry of Environment (2007), 117 species/varieties of algae are listed as extinct /endangered species in Japan. Most of them are Charales (58 taxa) and red algae (46 taxa; mostly freshwater). Local populations of these algae have decreased due to eutrophication, habitat losses and introduction of grass carp in Japan. Now, the NIES-Collection holds ca. 300 strains of endangered algae including 15 taxa of charales and 9 taxa of freshwater red algae.
In 2002, the NIES-Collection was selected as one of core collections in the National BioResource Project (NBRP). In the first phase of this project (FY2002-2006), various strains of cyanobacteria, microalgae and related protozoa were deposited from the University of Tsukuba and National Science Museum. More than 200 strains of cyanobacteria and microalgae maintained at IAM-Collection (University of Tokyo) were also deposited to the NIES-Collection.

10. Notice

When you present/publish your results using a NIES strain, please indicate the NIES strain number (e.g., NIES-125) and the collection name (Microbial Culture Collection at the National Institute for Environmental Studies).
Please use the strains appropriately in compliance with the conditions agreed in “Agreement for distribution.”

11. Copyright Notice

National Institute for Environmental Studies holds the copyright on this site, which includes all information such as images, figures and tables. For commercial use and all use in web sites, please contact us prior to any use. To private use for academic and educational purpose, images, figures and tables in this web site are available without permission, provided the following conditions are fulfilled;

  • For images, the copyright owner, “Microbial Culture Collection, National Institute for Environmental Studies” should be indicated near the pictures.
  • Image processing such as modification of contrast and image clipping is not allowed.

12. Protection of personal information

Personal information collected at Microbial Culture Collection from documents such as "Ordering form and agreement for distribution", "Strain Receipt Form" and "Strain Deposit Request and Agreement Form" will be used for the following purposes:

  • Process the purchase or deposit of microbial strains and if required, contact you in relation to these processes
  • Provide information on strains data

Furthermore, as indicated in the privacy policy of NIES, we will not share your personal information with third party beyond the scope necessary for achieving the purpose of use. If you have any questions or complaints about how NIES handles personal information, please contact us at the following channel.