The identification of non-animal, non-recombinant proteins with similar functionality to serum albumin and transferrin will lead to major cost reductions in cell culture media development, facilitating progress toward achieving price parity with cultivated meat.
Target molecule selection
Affordable animal-free omega-3 ingredients for alternative seafood and other alternative protein applications
In order to appeal to health-conscious consumers, alternative seafood products should contain similar omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA and EPA, content to conventional seafood. Animal-free omega-3 ingredients can be expensive and supply can be inconsistent. Scaling up animal-free omega-3 production is critical to the success of the global alternative seafood market, which is seeing increased attention and promising growth. Adding omega-3 to other alternative protein products could also provide a great point of differentiation while improving health appeal.
As the alternative seafood industry scales up, a low-cost and abundant source of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids will become necessary. Several means of producing these compounds have been investigated and commercialized, but additional innovation is needed to build a robust and scalable supply chain. Methods that would benefit from additional research include precision fermentation and cell-free systems.
Preventing oxidation of omega-3 fatty acids before and after addition to alternative seafood products
Deeper fundamental knowledge of the causes and prevention of oxidation of omega-3 fatty acids before, during, and after addition to alternative seafood products is needed to improve their nutritional and organoleptic properties. While several approaches to prevent oxidation of unsaturated lipids in conventional seafood products have been developed, antioxidation methods must be tailored to the formulations and processing of alternative seafood products, or perhaps new methods must be developed altogether.
- Bioprocess design
- Crop development
- End product formulation & manufacturing
- End Products
- Host strain development
- Ingredient optimization
- Raw Materials, Ingredients, & Inputs
- Target molecule selection
Open-access research into growth factors required for proliferation, maintenance, and differentiation of cell types relevant to cultivated meat will support both academic and industry research efforts. This research could include screening of species-specific growth factors under a variety of conditions and in a variety of cell types to characterize cross-species compatibility, which informs commercial efforts to scale production of the most widely used growth factors. Research should also seek to define optimal concentrations of individual growth factors and cocktails for achieving various cell states or behaviors, as well as understanding interactions between growth factors.
Rather than relying on recombinant growth factors, cultivated meat companies could use conditioned media from animal cells producing high levels of these molecules.
Microbial fermentation provides an efficient method for generating lipid molecules that are chemically identical to those produced by animals. Research efforts are needed to expand current knowledge about the process of engineering the appropriate metabolic pathways for the synthesis of animal lipids into microbial organisms well-suited for large-scale fermentation.
After identifying specific target molecules or desired functionalities in animal-derived foods, scientists can work backward, mining microbial sequences for candidate molecules in the microbial realm that might provide similar functionality. This process can also elucidate the pathways that produce these molecules and inform strategies for designing microbial strains that produce these molecules at scale.
Oleaginous yeast can convert sugars into fats that impart flavor and mouthfeel to alternative proteins, and they can accumulate lipids within their cell bodies to inhibit oxidation. New research on lipid encapsulation in yeast should investigate the efficacy of yeast species for the accumulation and storage of lipids—including lipids with the same profile as animal lipids.