Fungal strains are used within the manufacture of cheese, fermented meats, and plant-based meals. These strains assist present the attribute flavours, look (consider the blue-green veining in blue cheese) and options of those meals.
Nonetheless in the present day, such merchandise are constructed from strains in cell banks which reproduce asexually, which means they make copies of themselves. Based on Myconeos – a start-up based on fungal microbiological analysis from the College of Nottingham, UK – asexual replica signifies that strains are topic to genetic drift, liable to contamination, and may trigger high quality issues for producers.
Myconeos is working to counteract these considerations with proprietary know-how able to sexually breeding fungi species, permitting for the creation of latest strains with particular traits for the maturation and fermentation of meals merchandise.
Sexually breeding fungal strains
Fungal strains similar to Penicillium and Aspergillus – used within the manufacturing and fermentation of dairy and soybeans respectively – have been beforehand believed to be asexual. However by isolating these strains from each the setting and meals manufacturing chains, Myconeos can analyse them (utilizing classical and DNA approaches) and breed strains collectively. The beginning-up can be working with Fusarium.
“Our answer is to pioneer strategies and applied sciences that allow the sexual mating of fermentation strains,” Myconeos co-founder and CEO Richard Simpson instructed delegates at F&A Subsequent, an occasion hosted by Rabobank, Wageningen College & Analysis, Anterra Capital and StartLife within the Netherlands this week.
The breeding know-how produces ‘pure’ strains, the CEO harassed, ‘which means no GMO, no CRISPR, nothing’.
“This enables us to create new pure strains with elevated genetic range, permitting us to ship resilient and adaptable fermentation strains for safe and sustainable meals techniques.”
To create the proper situations, the start-up considers components similar to accomplice compatibility, gentle, ambiance, proximity, and targets excessive worth traits within the progeny, he defined.
Myconeos has now developed a large-scale breeding programme with a fungi financial institution of greater than 300 strains.
The fungi potential in meals
The brand new strains of fungi can be utilized as small ‘biomanufacturing factories’ to supply distinctive pure fermentation strains and new meals components.
Myconeos additionally claims these new strains might be developed with ‘distinctive’ traits, similar to new flavours, aromas, and improved textures, culminating in enhanced sensory traits of mould-ripened meals merchandise. “Moreover,” added Simpson, “our pure fungal biofactories can contribute to sustainable meals manufacturing by means of effectively utilizing waste and by-products.”
Myconeos sees alternative for its strains for use in cheese manufacturing, meat fermentation, and even plant-based merchandise.
The beginning-up has already launched a variety of ‘novel and distinctive’ Penicillium roqueforti strains for producers of blue cheese. “The strains of Penicillium roqueforti offered in the present day have been chosen for his or her efficiency in dairy merchandise; we’re engaged on breeding a brand new collection of strains designed to work to the identical ranges of efficiency in plant-based dairy,” famous the corporate. “These we hope will probably be accessible in the direction of the tip of 2023.”
Potential functions past meals?
Myconeos is concentrated at the beginning on meals. The corporate has partnered with a ‘main’ European tradition home to enhance its current pressure portfolio and has a challenge within the pipeline with a identified tempeh producer. Utilizing strains which first entered the market pre-1997 means they aren’t topic to Novel Meals regulation within the EU, nor the equal within the US.
The enterprise is based on a licensing mannequin, the CEO defined. “Our experience is in producing the strains, and we license these strains to individuals who wish to use them.”
However that is ‘only the start of our journey’, we have been instructed. “We [want] to hurry up our partnerships and funding, particularly in [technologies] like high-throughput screening and computational biology to assist us unlock potential in plant-based meals, the place our strains are key in producing revolutionary, better-quality merchandise.”
Whereas at the moment specializing in strains, sooner or later there’s scope for Myconeos to broaden its focus into metabolites produced by these fungal strains. At this level, Novel Meals rules could change into related.
“And there are some useful mycotoxins that the strains produce as properly, so [there are] potential alternatives which are wider than simply meals…”