Cryopreservation of two species of the multicellular volvocine green algal genus Astrephomene

BMC Microbiol. 2023 Jan 18;23(1):16. doi: 10.1186/s12866-023-02767-3.


Background: Astrephomene is an interesting green algal genus that, together with Volvox, shows convergent evolution of spheroidal multicellular bodies with somatic cells of the colonial or multicellular volvocine lineage. A recent whole-genome analysis of A. gubernaculifera resolved the molecular-genetic basis of such convergent evolution, and two species of Astrephomene were described. However, maintenance of culture strains of Astrephomene requires rapid inoculation of living cultures, and cryopreserved culture strains have not been established in public culture collections.

Results: To establish cryopreserved culture strains of two species of Astrephomene, conditions for cryopreservation of the two species were investigated using immature and mature vegetative colonies and two cryoprotectants: N,N-dimethylformamide (DMF) and hydroxyacetone (HA). Rates of cell survival of the A. gubernaculifera or A. perforata strain after two-step cooling and freezing in liquid nitrogen were compared between different concentrations (3 and 6%) of DMF and HA and two types of colonies: immature colonies (small colonies newly released from the parent) and mature colonies (large colonies just before daughter colony formation). The highest rate of survival [11 ± 13% (0.36-33%) by the most probable number (MPN) method] of A. gubernaculifera strain NIES-4017 (established in 2014) was obtained when culture samples of immature colonies were subjected to cryogenic treatment with 6% DMF. In contrast, culture samples of mature colonies subjected to 3% HA cryogenic treatment showed the highest "MPN survival" [5.5 ± 5.9% (0.12-12%)] in A. perforata. Using the optimized cryopreservation conditions for each species, survival after freezing in liquid nitrogen was examined for six other strains of A. gubernaculifera (established from 1962 to 1981) and another A. perforata strain maintained in the Microbial Culture Collection at the National Institute for Environmental Studies (MCC-NIES). We obtained ≥0.1% MPN survival of the A. perforata strain. However, only two of the six strains of A. gubernaculifera showed ≥0.1% MPN survival. By using the optimal cryopreserved conditions obtained for each species, five cryopreserved strains of two species of Astrephomene were established and deposited in the MCC-NIES.

Conclusions: The optimal cryopreservation conditions differed between the two species of Astrephomene. Cryopreservation of long-term-maintained strains of A. gubernaculifera may be difficult; further studies of cryopreservation of these strains are needed.

Keywords: Asexual cycle, Astrephomene, Cryopreservation, Cryoprotectant, Culture collection, Volvocine green algae.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chlorophyta* / genetics
  • Cryopreservation / methods
  • Dimethylformamide
  • Freezing


  • Dimethylformamide