Engineering and technology
- Environmental microorganism biotechnology
- Sustainable development
Agricultural and food sciences
- Food technology
- Food sciences and (bio)technology not elsewhere classified
As the global population shifts to protein-rich diets, meat consumption is ever-increasing. To meet the demand without further compromising the environment, research efforts are focused on the exploration of novel meat alternatives (e.g. plant-based products). However, the use of microorganisms as a raw material remains vastly unexplored. Microorganisms are able to synthesize a multitude of compounds with high nutritional value (e.g. essential amino acids) with less intensive use of resources (e.g. water) and higher productivities than meat and plant-based alternatives. They can also result in a meat-like texture, as seen with fungi-based meat alternatives, the currently only microbial protein-based alternative in the market. Despite this, the knowledge gap on how to combine the nutritional and sensory properties of different species and cell types to produce a complete product, remains. Moreover, the use of plant-sourced sugars as substrate threatens its sustainability and cost-competitiveness. To this end, we propose the use of acetate as an alternative substrate for the screening of pure cultures and synthetic communities with high-nutritional and techno-functional quality. Optimization of relevant bioproduction parameters of the best performing cultures will take place, followed by characterization of the downstream processes. Finally, we will texturize the biomass and assess its flavor (odor and taste) to produce a palatable microbial protein-based meat analogue.