About: The Norwegian Culture Collection of Algae (NORCCA)

Over a span of 50 years, The Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA) has built up a significant collection of algae cultures.

First green algae: Olav M. Skulberg isolated the first green algae strain in the collection in 1959. Today, NIVA-CHL1 is one of the most widely used test algae in the world.

Norway has long tradition in scientific investigations with algae, with Norwegian scientists being early promoters of algal experiments. In 1964, Olav M. Skulberg and Randi Skulberg established the NIVA Culture Collection of Algae (NIVA-CCA).

Fifty years later, the continuation of this work has resulted in shelves stocking over 900 different strains of algae, several of which are unique to NIVA-CCA.
In 2017 NIVA successfully established the merged culture collection of algae that comprises strains from NIVA-CCA, SCCAP and the University of Oslo. The Norwegian Culture Collection of Algae (NORCCA) offers access to nearly 2000 highly diverse strains of algae.   

Today our mission is to:
  • Share strains with researchers, educators and businesses worldwide
  • Obtain, deposit and store new isolates
  • Advise on algae, culture methods and laboratory cultivation
Since the beginning, NIVA has done extensive research on algae characteristics, growth conditions and applications. At present, the collection plays a key role in ensuring biodiversity through ex situ conservation of singular organisms in culture. Also, the strain NIVA-CHL1 is among the most widely used test algae in the world.

The collection
NORCCA consists of over 1500 strains of prokaryotic and eukaryotic photosynthetic microalgae. Several strains are unique to the collection. The collection is significantly specialized, focusing on photosynthetic prokaryotes, currently including more than 600 strains of cyanobacteria.

The vault: The cultures are kept in a stable 18
°C environment at the NIVA main office in Oslo Science Park. Cultures can be collected here or delivered worldwide.

The collection also contains 190 different strains from the cyanobacteria genus Planktothrix. This enables the study of this genus’ systematic diversity and ecological variation, indeed a necessary prerequisite for achieving representative results. The retention of cultures in our collection enables repetition and verification of research

You can have a look at and order all the available strains in our shop.

Based in Norway
Norway has several great mountain ranges, a myriad of rivers and lakes and fjords that bring deep penetration by the sea. The result is a wild variation in physical features and climatic conditions, and a similarly rich variety of algae. While some of the algae in our collection were isolated in exotic locations, from Africa to Antarctica, most originate from Norwegian lakes, rivers and coastal waters.

NORCCA receives support from the Norwegian ministry of the environment, being designated to hold a national reference collection of algae. The collection is registered in the World Federation for Culture Collections (WFCC) and the European Culture Collections Organization (ECCO).

Collaboration and bioprospecting
In addition to providing algae for research, education and businesses, NORCCA can also join and facilitate project collaboration.

NIVA has leading expertise in molecular biology, physiology and ecology of limnic and marine ecosystems, including of course, the role played by algae. We welcome the prospect of project collaboration with other organizations, and will when necessary forward your request to the appropriate research managers in NIVA that will contact you.

NIVA also welcomes organizations that wish to consider exploiting the potential resources in our cultures. In addition to our algae cultures, we offer our leading expertise to augment the process.

Accessible: NORCCA shares cultures
with researchers, educators and businesses worldwide. All the strains are available in the web shop.

Examples of applications
Genomics: New bio-molecular methods in genomics allow clarification of long-standing issues that unite the evolution and taxonomy of photosynthetic microorganisms. The availability of authentic organisms is necessary in this work, as this ensures the academic foundation for research investigations. The merged algae culture collection can contribute with the selection and distribution of appropriate research cultures.

Secondary metabolites: Substances of particular relevance for current conditions are: photodynamic compounds, apoptotic agents and cyanotoxins. 

Algae cultures are increasingly used in studies of algal toxins that have negative impacts on water quality that relate to health issues. In freshwater this applies primarily to cyanobacteria. Our culture collection includes more than 70 strains of known toxigenic cyanobacteria. These organisms are suitable for the chemical and biological studies of hepatotoxins, neurotoxins and substances that produce protracted symptoms of intoxication.

Bioassay: Ever since the algal strain NIVA-CHL 1 became a world-leading test organism for the determination of algae growth potential, NORCCA has been committed to ensuring access to relevant micro-algae, as test organisms for scientific and practical research. The primary test algae used in the ISO Standardized Algal Assays test system can be continuously supplied from the NIVA culture collection.