• Home
  • Culturing & Identification | NCMA at Bigelow Laboratory ncma.bigelow.org

Culturing, Isolation and Identification Services


Commission NCMA to isolate new strains for proprietary use by your company. We have in-house experience for isolating and characterizing new strains from either i) samples sent to NCMA from locations of your choice, or ii) samples collected by NCMA staff from a range of locations. We use common isolation practices such as single cell picking, serial dilution and flow cytometric isolation depending upon which is most relevant for the organism you are trying to isolate into culture. In addition, we can attempt to make any isolated strains axenic using antibiotic treatments. Please contact us at ncma@bigelow.org with details on the isolation project and we will provide you with an estimate based on time and meterials.  A NDA can be executed by both parties prior to detailed discussions if requested by the customer. 


Taxonomic Identification

There are several different levels of identification service as outlined below, and is geared to what the customer needs.

  • Basic microscopic analysis to get a provisional morphological ID (this is easier for the larger microalgae). COST $175/strain
  • For MIXED cultures, we can conduct a basic microscopic analysis and determine relative proportions of obvious different species in the culture. COST $225/strain
  • A firmer ID can be obtained from 18S rRNA gene analysis (COST $750/strain), but we would typically recommend a 3-gene screen (18S rRNA; ITS and COX or 28S), this will give an ID to species level with high confidence - taxonomists prefer this level of confidence. COST $1500/strain.
  • For MIXED cultures there are different options for molecular analysis:
    1. 18S rRNA PCR; TA-cloning; sequence analysis of 96 clones COST $2,500/culture
    2. Grow cells from a culture on plate (assuming they can grow on a plate); pick individual colonies; 18S rRNA gene analysis of different colonies. COST $500/colony (minimum 10 colonies).
    3. Flow cytometry sorting of individual cultures; downstream 18S rRNA gene analysis of sorted cells. Cost $3000/culture
    4. We can probably develop a diagnostic service for you based on a technique called Terminal Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (T-RFLP); we did this for a customer last year. It would involve some basic characterization of the strains you have, then we would essentially have a diagnostic test for your cultures. High set up cost (approx. $5000) then relatively cheap quantitative analysis ($500/sample).


Mass Culturing 

Do you need milligrams to grams or more of algal biomass? Do you need larger volumes than a starter culture to do your science? NCMA can help you in your research. If you need living cells, NCMA can grow (and ship) up to a 1L living culture for your research. This service, and the 20L harvested mass culture can be ordered directly online from the strain product page. If you need even more material, NCMA has the systems in place to grow up to several 400L cultures under ambient environmental conditions that we can concentrate via continuous centrifuge. Please contact us at ncma@bigelow.org to inquire about costs associated with contracting the NCMA to scale up to these larger volumes.


Culture Clean Up

Commission the NCMA to clean up algal cultures contaminated with either: non-algal protists; other algae; bacteria; fungi (prices will vary based on time spent and materials used).  Plating, dilution and/or antibiotic techniques are charged at $175/hour plus materials. Flow cytometry sorting techniques, and subsequent culturing, start at $800/culture plus materials.  Please contact us at ncma@bigelow.org to inquire about this service.

Contact us if you have any questions

Please send any questions to ncma@bigelow.org.