Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae)

The historic dried material held in the cyanobacteria collection is now subject to modern analytical techniques, allowing researchers to uncover scientific data previously impossible to access.

Highlights of the collection include several cyanobacterial mats collected during Scott’s Discovery expedition to Antarctica in 1902. DNA analysis of this historic material is providing researchers with a window into the past by allowing us to assess the cyanobacterial diversity of these mats over the past 100 years.

Algal mats

Examining cyanobacterial mats collected on the Discovery expedition to Antarctica in 1902.


  • dried/pressed herbarium specimens
  • microscope slides

Current projects


The cyanobacteria or 'blue-green algae' are are oxygenic phototrophic prokaryotic organisms (i.e. they lack a membrane-bound nucleus and other organelles). They are more closely related to the bacteria than to other algae. They occur in marine, freshwater and terrestrial habitats.
Their name comes from the Greek word for blue because of their bluish green colour which is due to production of a pigment called phycocyanin.