CCCryo – Microalgae as a Bio-Resource

CCCryo, which is perhaps the most unique strain collection in terms of scope and diversity, offers the basis for using cryophilic (= cold-loving) freshwater microalgae – snow and permafrost algae – in an industrial context.

Cryophilic algae are exposed to a variety of extreme stress factors in their natural habitats. First and foremost, these include low temperatures, intense light and UV radiation, dehydration and greatly varying nutrient availability and salt content. The goal is to take the isolates collected from polar expeditions and thus their developed special enzymes and metabolites for use in industrial applications.

To this end, suitable photobioreactors for the sterile mass cultivation of autotrophic organisms as well as the relevant processes are being developed for bioproduction on an industrial scale.


  • Screening of the CCCryo strains for customer-specific substances
  • Bioprospecting for suitable organisms for special applications
  • Development of production processes
  • Production of raw mass according to SOPs, including high-purity with microbiological quality control in compliance with ISO standards

Culture collection of cryophilic algae


Photobioreactor Development for High-Purity Algae Biomass

Vertical glass tube photobioreactors developed at Fraunhofer IZI-BB for sterile production of algae biomass in compliance with Good Laboratory Practices.
© Fraunhofer IZI-BB, Tobias Marschner
Vertical glass tube photobioreactors developed at Fraunhofer IZI-BB for sterile production of algae biomass in compliance with Good Laboratory Practices.

The Institute develops and operates glass tube photobioreactors for the industrial-scale bioproduction of high-purity, mass cultivation of phototrophic organisms. These systems have been used successfully by the institute and industrial customers since 2011. The individual modules of the reactors, each with a working volume of up to 60 l, allow a broad spectrum of phototrophic microorganisms to be used for biotechnology purposes and can be customized to meet specific production requirements. They are operated according to SOPs. Strict microbiological quality control protocols in compliance with ISO standards ensure uncontaminated biomass for sensitive applications.

PUFAChain – Development of an Integrative Bioproduction Process for Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA) From Microalgae

As part of this EU project, an international team of nine partners is studying the value chain, all the way from the bioresource, through to the production, harvesting, processing and the final product. The goal is to establish an economically stable production process for omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA), which should provide the building blocks for modern oleochemistry. It turns out that there are a number of snow algae from CCCryo that are suitable for the production of EPA.

The website for the PUFAChain project can be found here.

Pigments from Algae and Cyanobacteria as Natural Dye for the Food Industry

Carotenoids in snow and permafrost algae
© Fraunhofer IZI-BB, Thomas Leya
Carotenoids in snow and permafrost algae
Cyanophyceen pigments
© Fraunhofer IZI-BB
Cyanophyceen pigments

Snow and permafrost algae typically produce secondary carotenoids and other antioxidants, such as alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E). In their natural environments, this enables them react to stresses from low nutrient availability as well as intense light and UV radiation. The various algae strains exhibit some very different pigment patterns.

In mass production, the process is typically divided into two phases. The first involves producing a large amount of biomass under optimum nutrient and light conditions. In the second phase, specific stressors are applied to trigger the synthesis of secondary carotenoids. This usually accumulates large quantities of lipids containing fat-soluble carotenoids.

Depending on the strain of algae, the algae mass contains various levels of

  • astaxanthin
  • alpha and beta carotene
  • lutein
  • alpha-tocopherol
  • violaxanthin
  • antheraxanthin
  • zeaxanthin
  • echinenone
  • hydroxyechinenone
  • neoxanthin
  • adinoxanthin
  • canthaxanthin


In industrial applications, the most interesting of these are lutein, astaxanthin and alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) for food supplements as well as for the animal feed and cosmetics industries.

Blue, pink and violet dyes, on the other hand, are produced from cyanobacteria in a single phase. These more water-soluble pigments are especially well-suited for the food industry.

  • CCCryo algae culture collection containing over 450 isolates of cryophilic organisms (algae, cyanobacteria, fungi and mosses)
    The database of the CCCryo strain collection as well as ordering information are available on the website. The algae are available to public and industrial research institutions.
  • In-situ sterilizable glass tube photobioreactors in multiloop- and double-helix design with airlift principle (1 x 60 L, 2 x 30 L, 3 x 25 L, 6 x 10 L), total volume in sterile production process = approx. 255 L, with an annual capacity of approx. 100 kg fresh algae mass
  • Cryomicroscope with digital image processing
  • Gas chromatograph with FID detector (Agilent 7890B)
  • Element analyzer (EuroEA CNS)

  • A4F, AlgaFuel, SA, Lisbon (Portugal)
  • GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences, Potsdam (Germany)
  • German Aerospace Center (DLR), Berlin (Germany)
  • Humboldt University of Berlin, Berlin (Germany)
  • IOI Oleochemicals GmbH & Co. KG, Witten (Germany)
  • Mibelle Biochemistry, Mibelle AG, Buchs (Switzerland)
  • Culture Collection of Algae at University of Göttingen, Göttingen (Germany)
  • University of California UCLA, Los Angeles (USA)

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