Sustainable chicken mushroom mycelia production technology

2024 – 2026

Development of sustainable production technology for the manufacturing of high-quality chicken mushroom mycelium as a future meat substitute.

Production platform: Fermentation

Technology sector: Bioprocess design, End product formulation & manufacturing, Feedstocks, Host strain development, Ingredient optimization, Scaffolding

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Project aims

The overall goal of the investigation is to establish the “chicken of the woods” mushroom Laetiporus sulfureus as an economically viable and secure bioactive ingredient for food, with special emphasis on its application as a meat substitute. In contribution to this medium to long-term goal we initially aim at the development of a high-efficiency production process of fungal mycelium in stainless steel bioreactors. Since mushrooms suffer from hydrodynamic stress and disintegration of their cell filaments in stirred tank bioreactors, we aim to teach the fungus to grow in attachment to small substrate particles, a technology which is known as morphology engineering. This technology is supposed to represent a key milestone in increasing productivities and process economics.

To further achieve a maximum level of sustainability, we intend to apply 100% alternative substrates based on a combination of side streams from brewery and potato processing industry. As a fungus naturally growing on trees, the chicken of the woods mushroom is capable of utilizing non-pretreated lignocellulosics, present in these substrates. However, to facilitate maximum growth rate, the complex macromolecular structure of alternative substrates needs to be chopped down into easily utilizable sugars, which will be addressed via mechanical and enzymatic pretreatment. Enzymatic pretreatment will be accomplished by recycling of the spent fermentation media which contain extracellular carbohydrate-degrading enzymes secreted by the fungus during the cultivation. Finally, a detailed chemical evaluation of mycoprotein or whole grain chicken of the woods mycelia and potentially toxic ingredients will generate first evidence for future regulatory approval (eg., as a novel food) by national authorities and the European Food Safety Agency.

Principal researchers

Sci24019 23 fm de fc 1 712 schwarz headshot

Christoph Schwarz

Head of Research & Development
S2B GmbH & Co. KG, Germany

Christoph Schwarz is a microbiologist by education and holds a PhD in biochemistry. His research focus centers around the exploration of non-model microorganisms for industrial biotechnology, as demonstrated by successful recent projects on terpene engineering, protein-based antibiotics substitutes, and bioactive colorants from microalgae.

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