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Provasoli-Guillard National Center for Marine Algae and Microbiota (NCMA)


The NCMA originated from private culture collections established by Dr. Luigi Provasoli at Yale University and Dr. Robert (Bob) R. L. Guillard at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (Bob Guillard’s 90th birthday was featured in: Andersen, R.A. 2011. Celebrating Bob Guillard’s 90th. Phycological Newsletter 47(2): 10-12.), and was originally called the Culture Collection of Marine Phytoplankton (CCMP). Initially, algal cultures of scientific interest or for aquaculture were generously provided to colleagues, thereby fostering research on marine phytoplankton, but . in time, the task of maintaining and distributing cultures became too large.

In March 1980, the Biological Oceanography Program of the National Science Foundation supported a workshop at the University of Rhode Island entitled "Workshop on Recommendations for the Establishment of Marine Phytoplankton Culture Collections". The participants were academic scientists and representatives from the aquaculture industry, American Type Culture Collection, Environmental Protection Agency, and National Science Foundation. The workshop concluded by recommending the establishment of a single, national collection for marine phytoplankton managed by Dr. Bob Guillard. A National Science Foundation grant was awarded to provide partial financial support and an Advisory Committee was appointed.

Initially, the collection was housed at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts. In the autumn of 1981, Dr. Bob Guillard and Jeff Brown (curator at the NCMA from 2007-2016) drove the Collection to Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, Maine. In 1985, the facility was changed from a "Collection" to a "Center" to reflect the wider service-orientated mission of the facility. When the Center was established, it was named in honor of Dr. Luigi Provasoli and Dr. Bob Guillard as a tribute to their many and lasting contributions to the culture of marine phytoplankton. For additional early history of the NCMA (when it was named CCMP), see Guillard (1988).

In 1989, Dr. Bob Guillard was named Director Emeritus and Dr. Robert A. Andersen was appointed Director. The first published strain catalog was printed in 1991 (Andersen et al. 1991), and in 1992 the Provasoli-Guillard Center for Culture of Marine Phytoplankton was named a National Center and Facility by the U.S. Congress (Public Law 102-587, Oceans Act of 1992). The Center was re-named as the Provasoli-Guillard National Center for Culture of Marine Phytoplankton to acknowledge its official national standing. The CCMP established its first website in 1996, and it also began providing large scale cultures and DNA to scientists. The CCMP began cryopreserving its strains in 1996, and a second catalog of strains was published in 1997 (Andersen et al. 1997). 

In 2009, Dr Andersen was named the second Director Emeritus and Dr. Willie Wilson was appointed as Interim Director, a position he maintained for 1-year until his full appointment to Director in July 2010. Under his direction, the CCMP was renamed the Provasoli-Guillard National Center for Marine Algae and Microbiota (NCMA) in October 2011. The addition of microbiota to the collection and name seemed especially fitting given Luigi Provasoli’s discoveries over 50 years ago that many algae require associations with bacteria to grow normally. The 2011 Algal Biomass Organization’s (ABO) Summit in Minneapolis, Minnesota was the occasion for the formal announcement of a new name for the CCMP. Now called the Provasoli-Guillard National Center for Marine Algae and Microbiota, or NCMA, the change reflects addition of bacteria and archaea (an ancient form of bacteria) to the Center, making it one of the world’s first integrated collections of these incredibly abundant, but little known, life forms. Despite the name change, the CCMP identifier remained on all algal strains, ensuring continuity with current, past, and future phytoplankton research. Dr.Wilson left Bigelow Laboratory in 2014, succeeded by Dr. Michael W. Lomas.

NCMA/CCMP Staff Over the Years


Robert R.L. GuillardDirector Emeritus1981-1989
Robert A. AndersenDirector Emeritus1989-2009
William H. WilsonDirector Emeritus2010-2013
Michael W. LomasDirector2014-present


Rhonda Selvin1983-1990
Dean Jacobson1990-1993
Steve Brett1994-1996
Steve Morton1996-1998
Doug Phinney2002-2004
Julie Sexton1989-2018


Associate Curators:

Kristin Heidenreich2019-present
Joan Blanchette2017-2021
Mark Hurd2016-present

Assistant Curators:  

Jeff Brown2007-2016
Isaiah Lary2008-2009
Tracey Riggens1982-1986, 1998-2016
Laura Livingston1986-1988
Maureen Keller1981-1992
Olivia Barberi2021-2022
Kerry Dykens2023-present


Andersen, R.A. 2011. Celebrating Bob Guillard’s 90th. Phycological Newsletter 47(2): 10-12.

Andersen, R.A., Morton, S.L., and Sexton, J.P. 1997. CCMP - Provasoli-Guillard National Center for Culture of Marine Phytoplankton 1997 list of strains. J. Phycol. 33 (suppl): 1-75

Andersen, R.A., Jacobson, D.M., and Sexton, J.P. 1991. Provasoli-Guillard Center for Culture of Marine Phytoplankton Catalog of Strains - 1991. West Boothbay Harbor, ME USA. 98 pp.

Guillard, R.R.L. 1988. The Center for Culture of Marine Phytoplankton: History, Structure, Function and Future. J.Protozool. 35: 255-256.