Overcoming global food-chain stress by using microbial protein as feed ingredient on aquaculture. 01/12/2019 - 31/12/2020

Abstract

World population will reach 9 billion in 2050 leading to an increase in protein demand. Global meat consumption is expected to double during this period. Meanwhile aquatic animal production represents a steadily increasing global share of dietary protein. Aquaculture production represents 50% of this market and has already increased up to 2.5 times over the last 30 year. One third of the protein source used in aquaculture comes from fishery byproducts while the rest originates from crops (i.e. soybean). Fishmeal prices is increasing steadily while the supply is decreasing. Great part of fishmeal originates from caught fish which reduces biodiversity and submit fishers to work conditions nearly slavery. On the other hand, crops are responsible for 30% of the use of ice-free land, 70% of freshwater use and 30% greenhouse gases emissions. Thus, the inevitable intensification of the production of these conventional protein sources could lead to the acceleration of climate change and to environmental impacts. Find an alternative sustainable protein sources for food-chain and for aquaculture is therefore a major challenge for society. Microbes have a great potential to help mitigating food stress. Besides having the highest protein content of all organisms, up to 75% of the dry weight, it has several advantages comparing with traditional protein source: A) no arable land is required B) near null freshwater demand; C) nearly 100% nutrient uptake. Thus, it could replace part of the protein sources used in feed products. Comparing with other microorganisms aerobic heterotrophic bacteria (AHB) has a remarkable sustainable advantage: they can be grown in secondary resources (i.e. effluents). Consequently, water and nutrients can be recycled locally avoiding water and soil contamination. Conventional wastewater treatment plant (activated sludge process) allows the AHB growth in domestic or industrial wastewater. In the 80's scientists already pointed the potential of AHB as feed ingredient as its nutritional quality is similar to soybean and fish meal. AHB biomass from domestic and industrial wastewater were administered in feeding trial using different organisms (i.e. pigs, chicken, etc.) generating positive results. Most of these studies used AHB biomass from domestic wastewater treatment which contain faecal contamination and heavy metals which raises reasonable concerns about safety. Both contaminants can be easily avoided especially considering food industries' effluents. In Flanders, Breweries are one of the main industries in the food sector. For this reason, brewery wastewater was selected to be the substrate for AHB production. Conventional activated sludge is designed to reach the discharge limits and in reducing operational costs of the plants. Under this conditions, low biomass production is obtained. In order to have a viable technology, biomass productivity and quality need to be maximized. Our research team has been focused in the development of a technology (high-rate activated sludge) able to maximize AHB production and quality. AHB biomass has been produced in high quantities and with great biomass quality, but it is still necessary to prove that AHB produced using our technology can be used as feed ingredient to animals. For this reason, feeding trial experiment is proposed in this project to test the effect of AHB biomass on the fish (rainbow trout). This test is fundamental to prove that AHB can replace positively part of the feed ingredients applied in fish farming. The results are essential to raise awareness among stakeholders (i.e. scientific community, breweries, lawmakers, environmental and food agencies, consumers, etc.) and improve acceptability of it. The success of this research can lead to the continuation of this research which once reaching industrial scale could help mitigate food-chain and environmental stress generated by the conventional protein production.

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BrewPro: Multi-stage microbial technology for the cost-effective production of high-quality animal feed on brewery effluents. 01/01/2017 - 31/12/2020

Abstract

By 2050, the global demand for nutritional protein will increase by about 50%. Yet, the boundaries of environmental sustainability are already severely trespassed in the traditional food-supply chain. Locally recovering resources from waste streams is one of the key steps to reduce environmental impact while creating import independency (e.g. soybean). In single cell protein (SCP) production, these societal needs perfectly match, as microbial technology is probably the most resource-efficient manner of producing nutritional protein. Wastewater from the food processing industry provides an excellent target for upgrading, such as brewery wastewater. The BrewPro project aims to develop a process that for the first time would allow to tune the protein quantity and quality of aerobic heterotrophic bacteria. This should enable cost-effective harvesting and post-processing, yielding a nutritionally attractive ingredient for animal feed preparations. The concept is based in a multiple stage anaerobic/aerobic bioreactor. As such, BrewPro wants to strengthen food sustainability and security through smart management of secondary resources.

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Purple Microbes for Eco-friendly NUtrition – PurpleMENU. 01/10/2016 - 31/12/2016

Abstract

By 2050, the global demand for nutritional protein will increase by about 50%. Yet, the boundaries of environmental sustainability are already severely trespassed in the traditional fertilizer-feed-food chain and in fish-meal based aquaculture. Around the world, researchers have taken up the quest for novel, sustainable protein foods. Recovering and recycling renewable resources from waste streams is one of the key steps to mitigate the environmental impact. In single cell protein (SCP) production, both societal needs perfectly match, as microbial technology is probably the most resource-efficient manner of producing nutritional protein. In this new era of (meta)transcriptomics and (meta)proteomics, we start to see a glimpse of all the biological features that can be steered. This provides a strong incentive to revisit SCP, for the first time with a fundamental and mechanistically driven approach, exploiting not only the potential of a microbial cell to its fullest, but also the even richer genetic pool of a microbial community. Purple non-sulfur bacteria (PNSB) are nutritionally one of the most attractive types of SCP, and are furthermore metabolically the most versatile organisms on the planet. Each type of (sub)metabolism represents distinct (meta)proteomes, and hence nutritional properties such as essential amino acid profile, gastro-intestinal digestibility and nucleic acid content. Biotechnologically, the controllability of autotrophically grown PNSB communities is completely unexplored. PurpleMENU bridges environmental biotechnology to sustainable chemistry and nutrition sciences. Hereby key insights are unraveled that serve as the basis for novel bioprocesses, and perhaps for global food security and sustainability.

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