ProFuture develops light microalgae for plant-based protein without fishiness
18 Mar 2022 --- Researchers have developed high-protein microalgae strains boasting improved taste – now upscaled by Allmicroalgae.
Specifically, a new Chlorella strain could be used in products like vegan sausages, snacks, soups and vegetable creams, sports drinks, bread and pasta, all with improved nutritional quality and desirable sensorial properties.
This is part of the EU-funded project ProFuture, which is positioning its microalgae ingredients as aiding the shift to more plant-based diets within the Farm to Fork Strategy launched by the European Commission.
While there is already high-quality food based on microalgae, they often have a “grassy” taste, intense green color and fishy odor, which are often not accepted by consumers.
Therefore, the new strain offers improved organoleptic characteristics while keeping high nutraceutical value. Additionally, it contains a higher protein content than the original variety.
Foods made with the new Chlorella will be fully characterized from biochemical, technological and sensorial perspectives, note the researchers. Later, the best formulations will be upscaled by food producers and used for testing market uptake.
Food producer team-ups
The new strain was developed by MarBiotech within the CCMAR Group and Greencolab at the University of Algarve in Portugal.
Allmicroalgae has now upscaled the production of the new Chlorella at its facilities, shipping it ILVO - Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research in Belgium, the Institute of Agrifood Research and Technology (IRTA) in Spain and the German Institute of Food Technologies (DIL).
ILVO is in charge of the Chlorella functionality to predict the behavior of this new ingredient in food applications. Based on these results, IRTA and DIL will partner with food producers to optimize healthy and tasty formulations using the Chlorella at lab level.
Harnessing random mutagenesis
The researchers selected novel strains from microalgal species already registered as novel food – Chlorella vulgaris, spirulina and Tetraselmis.
While mutations may occur spontaneously in nature, they can also be induced experimentally using laboratory procedures. Random mutagenesis was used to isolate microalgae strains with different properties.
C3 and GL3 Chlorella strains were isolated. C3 is able to grow significantly faster on solid medium as compared to wildtype microalgae.
Potential for large-scale production
Although C3 cells presented higher protein contents, GL3 displayed vestigial chlorophyll contents, lower carotenoid levels and higher protein contents than the wildtype, together with a significantly different amino acid profile.
Glutamic acid was present in similar amounts as in soy and spirulina, which has not been observed in other strains of Chlorella. The GL3 cells also reached higher cell concentrations than the wildtype, “strongly suggesting” that it might become a relevant source of protein, being suitable for large-scale production.
Additionally, a safety analysis was carried out for heavy metals, potential allergens, microbiological stability, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAHs), acrylamide and cytotoxicity tests and potential residue of pesticides.
Duplaco is also active in developing pale algae, working to introduce a white version.
Meanwhile, Allmicroalgae recently teamed up with Algaplus on Algaessence for immunity. It is positioned as the first product in Europe that combines micro and macroalgae.
Edited by Katherine Durrell
This feature is provided by FoodIngredientsFirst’s sister website, NutritionInsight.
To contact our editorial team please email us at email@example.com
Subscribe now to receive the latest news directly into your inbox.