About the Canadian Phycological Culture Centre

Pediastrum spp.The Canadian Phycological Culture Centre (CPCC) was formally established in 1987 as the University of Toronto Culture Collection of Algae and Cyanobacteria (UTCC) with funds awarded to Drs. Pamela Welbourn (Stokes) and John R. Coleman by the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities Excellence Fund. The facility originally consolidated the private research collections of several scientists at the University of Toronto and York University (Brian Colman, Tom Hutchinson, Czesia Nalewajko and Pamela Welbourn (Stokes)) as the core of the collection. Please read about our history for further details.

The CPCC functions as a national service centre for the collection of freshwater algal, including cyanobacterial, cultures in Canada. It is a member (#605) of the World Federation of Culture Collections (WFCC) and is registered with the Global Registry of Biorepositories (GRBio).

Approximately 400 isolates of primarily freshwater algae, including cyanobacteria, along with a few strains of marine microalgae, freshwater macroalgae and Lemna spp. (duckweed) are currently being maintained at CPCC. Most of the major algal groups are represented. The majority are freshwater algae and soil algae including chlorophytes, cryptomonads, chrysophytes, cyanobacteria, diatoms, euglenoids and rhodophytes.

The primary objectives of the CPCC are to:              

  • maintain pure authenticated cultures of algae, cyanobacteria, and duckweed that are of interest in ecological and biotechnological research;
  • provide these cultures, along with the appropriate culture medium, to researchers in universities, government and industry;
  • train researchers on the maintenance of algal cultures, including medium preparation and aseptic technique;
  • promote the use of algal strains native to Canada;
  • provide researchers with other information and services related to algae; and
  • serve as a depository for valuable cultures from other researchers.

Given that one of our objectives is to promote the use of strains native to Canada, about 50% of the strains are native to Canada and about 80% are unique to the CPCC. Some of the isolates are from areas of environmental concern in Canada (e.g., the Great Lakes, acid-stressed lakes, metal-polluted and organically-polluted sites); some are from stressed environments (e.g., low or high pH, low or high temperatures); some have special properties (e.g., toxin or high lipid production); others are commonly used as a food source for other organisms or for toxicity testing.

The Director of the CPCC is Dr. Brian Colman, Professor Emeritus (York University, Toronto, ON Canada). Dr. Kirsten Muller is the Associate Director at the University of Waterloo. We have an Advisory Committee that consists of the directors and the following faculty members:

  • Judy Acreman, Retiree (Former Curator of UTCC/Former Manager of CPCC)
  • Dr. Helene Cyr  (University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada)
  • Dr. George Espie (University of Toronto at Mississauga, Mississauga, ON, Canada)
  • Dr. Stephanie Guildford, Associate Professor Emerita (University of Minnesota, Duluth, MN, USA)  
  • Dr. Johan Hellebust, Professor Emeritus (University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada)
  • Dr. Andrea Kirkwood (Ontario Tech University/University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Oshawa, ON, Canada)
  • Dr. Czesia Nalewajko, Professor Emerita (University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada)
  • Dr. Robert Sheath (California State University at San Marcos, CA, USA)
  • Dr. Ralph Smith, Professor Emeritus (University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada)
  • Dr. Charles Trick (University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada)
  • Dr. Michael Twiss (Clarkson University, Potsdam, NY, USA)
  • Dr. Susan Watson, Retiree (National Water Research Institute, ON, Canada)

The staff consists of the Technical Curator, Heather Roshon, who is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the collection, together with several Work Study, casual or volunteer students. Please see contact us for detailed contact information.