Thomas Leya. Photo: Fraunhofer IZI-BB

Assessor of the Phycology Section

Thomas Leya manages the Extremophile Research group and is the curator of the Culture Collection of Cryophilic Algae (CCCryo) at the Fraunhofer IZI-BB in Potsdam. Main topics of his research are cold-adapted microalgae from polar and high alpine regions of our planet. He addresses taxonomic and phylogenetic questions as well as applied aspects based on the adaptation mechanisms of this extremophile algae group. He transfers the results from this applied field into industrial products such as active components in cosmetics, omega-3-fatty acids and pigments for the food sector. Genomics and transcriptomics complete his research topics on snow algae. After an education as an export trader, Leya studied biology in Hamburg and performed field studies on antifouling substances from marine red algae in Sydney (Australia). Since 1999 he works with snow algae and founded the algae collection CCCryo. In 2003, he did his doctorate on snow algae from Spitsbergen at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Since 2004 Leya is group manager at the Fraunhofer Society. Since 2017 he is also active as an expert for algae identification at the DIN (Deutsches Institut für Normung e.V.).

Research Focus

Identification, Taxonomy, Phylogeny, Adaptation Mechanisms, Genomics and Transkriptomics of Snow and Permafrost Algae and


Dr. Thomas Leya
Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology, Branch Bioanalytics and Bioprocesses (IZI-BB)
Am Mühlenberg 13
D-14476 Potsdam-Golm
Email: thomas.leya[at]