South Australian ocean organism could be key to animal-free meat, research shows
Posted On May 6, 2022
A fungus-like organism found in the water around South Australia could be the pivotal ingredient in making animal-free meat.
Flinders University researchers have found thraustochytrids, a group of marine microbes, could make everything from nutritional supplements, medicines, cosmetics, biofuels and animal-free meat.
Associate Professor Munish Puri, a medical biotechnology researcher at Flinders University’s College of Medicine and Public Health, said many people are now turning to alternative meat products.
But the current source for sustainable products are not sustainable, Puri added.
“There is a need to search for alternative sources of protein and lipids required in their production,” he said.
Puri said the microbes could be precisely fermented to create a “single cell oil” to be used in nutritional supplements.
The biggest benefit is it doesn’t require land to be produced, an issue currently raised around the sustainability of farming for meat.
“We also know that thraustochytrids can produce a wide range of high-value bioproducts, such as omega-3 fatty acids, squalene (used in cosmetics and vaccines), exopolysaccharides (used in pharmaceuticals), enzymes, aquaculture feed, pigments and lipids suitable for biodiesel composition,” Puri said.
“To produce plant-based meats, it requires proteins, nutrients and fats.
“Thraustochytrids are an oleaginous (oily) microorganism that produce high lipid (fat) content and it is expected that these fats will mimic the structure of animal fats, enhancing the sensory properties of plant-based meats and confer a delicious taste.”
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Puri said this discovery could fast track the introduction of animal-free meat.