What is microbial biomass, and why is it fascinating for food stuff and ingredient manufacturers?
Anita Hartog (AH): “The phrase ‘microbe’ is made use of below in the wide connotation of bacteria, fungi, yeast and algae. Microbial biomass is the outcome of the fermentation, by these microbes, of natural and organic substrates these kinds of as by-items from the sugar field and other food stuff processing residues, or hydrogen substrates together with methanol and methane. Biomass ideal for human or animal consumption has typically been referred to as single mobile protein (SCP).
“Making use of these forms of edible microorganisms is not a completely new idea for the duration of Earth War I, for illustration, Germany made edible yeast for foodstuff on a substantial scale. But the idea of using microbial biomass as a food stuff resource truly started getting steam in the 1960s, sooner or later ensuing, for case in point, in the 1980s start of mycoprotein (Quorn), derived from the Fusarium venenatum fungus.
“The most important incentive for making use of microbial biomass to generate food stuff has been its sustainability: it doesn’t call for as significantly arable land or h2o as elevating animals and crops. And it can renovate aspect streams or even discarded substrates into protein, minimizing wastage. But microbial biomass can offer buyers and producers significantly a lot more.
Is microbial biomass protein as higher in protein as meat and dairy?
AH: “The protein content of algae, these types of as spirulina, can be as large as 46-65% of its dry fat. Fungi can operate to 30-50% protein: mycoprotein, for example, is 45% protein by dry body weight. Microorganisms can be 50-80% protein. And yeast can have a protein material of all over 50% protein by dry pounds.
“These quantities assess nicely to meat and dairy, and are even greater than many plant-based options.
“However, protein quantity isn’t the whole tale: you have to think about its excellent and bioavailability as perfectly. Can the protein be employed by the human body?”
How do you identify the excellent of microbial biomass protein?
AH: “To do this, you need to have to search at the amino acid composition and digestibility of the proteins. Amino acids are essential for development, tissue restore, and many other functions. As a benchmark, animal protein includes all nine crucial amino acids.
“The amino acid profiles for microbial proteins in reality assess really well with meat and fish, and with the conventional demands for human usage as outlined by the FAO/WHO. Plant proteins, on the other hand, usually lack or are very low in some of these essential amino acids.
“But these amino acids also want to be ‘available’ for the body to use: this is wherever digestibility will come in. Digestion starts off in the mouth, with mastication and saliva, and carries on in the belly (with the gastric juices) and the intestines (with bile, pancreatic juice and intestinal juice).
“Distinctive proteins and protein fractions will be degraded at different charges during the numerous digestive phases, as the amino acid chains are broken down into personal amino acids. The latter can be absorbed in the small intestine, and released into the blood stream, which delivers them in the course of the body.
“The digestibility of microbial biomass proteins varies. Fungi, for case in point, have a digestibility similar to eggs and milk, while algae is fewer digestible. By breaking down the algae’s mobile walls, its digestibility can be improved.”
What other nutritional price or wellbeing gains can microbial biomasses offer you?
AH: “Edible microbial biomasses can be excellent vegan sources of a variety of nutritional vitamins, fat, fibres, etcetera. For case in point, K2 vitamins, which are normally not found in crops, can be manufactured by specific micro organism. K2 plays a role in blood clotting, bone overall health and heart wellness.
“Algae, on the other hand, can be a great resource of the omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. These are really crucial for the construction of the body’s cell walls, and can have an affect on the heart, lungs, blood vessels and immune program. Omega 3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA are most generally provided by fish, so it is really interesting to have a vegan supply.
“The fibres from the microbial biomass can also deliver more health positive aspects. In this context, yeast and algae can be resources of beta glucans, which have been proven to influence immune capabilities.
1. Ciani M, Lippolis A, Fava F, Rodolfi L, Niccolai A, Tredici MR: Microbes: Foods for the Foreseeable future. Meals 2021, 10.