The Coimbra Culture Collection of Algae (ACOI)
Santos, Lília M.A. Santos
The Algoteca de Coimbra (ACOI) is a unique scientific resource of freshwater microalgae and cyanobacteria. In 1972 it was initiated for research and teaching purposes and, today, it is one of the largest algal collections in the world, housing about 4,000 strains. It is unique in the sense that all the strains originate from a wide range of habitats in Portugal, and have been isolated and identified by M. F. Santos. The strains thus are a representative sampling of the Portuguese algal flora and have been identified in a consistent fashion. The major groups in the collection are chlorophytes and cyanophytes. New accessions are mostly of rare, endangered or economically valuable strains. A revised list of the cultures, which are identified to the species level, has been available online since 1998 (http://www. uc. pt/botanica/ACOI. htm). A current priority of ACOI is the implementation of cryopreservation protocols to guarantee the safe and long-term storage of the ACOI strains; a cryo-storage algal unit has recently been installed under the European project "The Conservation of a vital European scientific and Biotechnological Resource: micro Algae and cyanobacteria" (COBRA). Other priorities include (1) the evaluation of the collection's biotechnological potential and (2) the integration of culture data in an easy to use database that will be made available to the scientific community.