The Culture collection of soil algae and cyanobacteria of the Institute of Soil Biology ASCR (ISBAL) was established by Alena Lukešová as a working collection in 1986. It became a member of Biology Centre Collection of Organisms (BCCO) in 2015.
At present, about 2000 strains of algae and cyanobacteria (unialgal cultures) isolated from soils and aerophytic habitats are maintained. Cyanobacteria cover about 20% of the total spectrum of maintained strains, filamentous species (Nostocales, Oscillatoriales) prevail. Eukaryotes are mainly represented by strains of green algae (Chlorophyceae, Trebouxiophyceae, less Ulvophyceae, Streptophyta) and straminopiles (Xanthophyceae, Eustigmatophyceae).
The collection includes strains isolated from various biotopes and ecosystems of different climatic and geographic zones. The highest number of strains originates from the temperate zone (CR, Slovakia, Germany, Holland, Sicily, Rumania, Canada, USA), followed by strains from polar regions (Antarctica, Canadian Arctic, Svalbard, subarctic-Abisko, Norway, Sweden) as well as from tropical and subtropical regions (Egypt, Brazil, Kenya, Cuba, Mexico, Indonesia). Strains were isolated not only from soils but also from cave substrates, colliery spoils, post-volcanic ash, intestine tracts and excrements of soil invertebrate animals, air, etc.
Strains are maintained by classical sub-culturing on agar slants in tubes (mainly on BBM and BG-11 media) in refrigerators at low light, and temperature between 8-15°C. Cryopreservation of a small part of the collection has started as an alternative technique for long-term preservation in 2015.
The main function of this culture collection is to maintain and supply cultures of microscopic algae and cyanobacteria important for basic and applied research, pharmaceutical and food industry, agriculture, medicine and teaching. Maintained algal isolates represent an important resource of biologically active compounds with biotechnological potential (e.g. polyunsaturated fatty acids, carotenoids), representatives of heterocytous cyanobacteria are known to produce many bioactive metabolites (e.g. toxins, enzyme inhibitors, antifungal and antitumor substances), some isolates indicate potentional use as soil bioconditioners.
Strains are broadly used both for scientific and education purposes and are available also for any collaborative research including biotechnology use.