Nantes Cultures Collection: the microphytobenthos biodiversity, a new and original resource for biotechnology applications Vona Méléder1, Jean-Luc Mouget2, Eva Cointet1, Alexandra Petit1 and Denise Jahan1

1 Laboratoire Mer Molécules Santé, Faculty of Sciences,University of Nantes, Nantes, France

2 Ecophysiologie et métabolisme des microalgues, Université du Maine, Le Mans, France


Estuaries and coastal areas are amongst the most productive marine ecosystems on earth. They are particularly valuable as habitats and feeding grounds for a variety of organisms (birds, shellfish, demersal fish and invertebrates), which often support the local economy. One of the major primary producing groups of these areas are microscopic algae that inhabit intertidal sediments, the microphytobenthos, forming at the sediment surface dense biofilms. Microphytobenthos provides an important energy source for the estuarine food web, has a central role in moderating carbon flow in coastal sediments and contributes to sediment stabilization.

Since the past decade, its key roles in the functioning of coastal ecosystems started to be studied: ecology, biology and physiology. But the assessment of usefull metabolites remains little known. Actually, micro-algae usually studied and used for biotechnology applications are planktonic ones, rarely diatoms, never benthic, whereas diatoms largely dominate the global micro-algae diversity. Microphtybenthos diversity remains a ‘secret garden’ with a powerful potential in research and development.

The Nantes Cultures Collection, or NCC, referenced in the 'World Data Center for Microorganisms' as 'NCC WDCM 856' since 2002, and dedicated to the preservation, the storage and the assessment of micro-algae, is the only one collection worldwide hosting strains belonging to benthic diatoms. With more than 200 strains, including more than 50 ‘blue diatoms’ and 40 genus, the NCC is a real conservatory of microphytobenthos diversity mainly originally from the French Atlantic coast. Currently, the NCC takes place in the Consortium Atlantic Microalgae (AMI) supporting a PhD (Eva Cointet) with the objective to determine lipid profiles of the NCC strains to supply new and original strains for biotechnology.