Michroma takes fungal food colors platform to pilot scale to produce pH-stable, heat-stable natural red


Michroma, which has offices in Argentina and San Francisco, CA, has identified filamentous fungi strains that naturally produce a target color, and deployed CRISPR gene editing technology to create proprietary, non-GMO industrial strains with superior yield and performance, explained co-founder and CEO Ricky Cassini, who worked as a professor of operations and logistics before teaming up with fellow academic Mauricio Braia in 2019.

He’s a PhD in biological sciences and he has a lot of experience in the industry working with industrial biotech to produce ingredients valorizing industrial waste and scaling up industrial bio processes,”​ he told FoodNavigator-USA.

He told me about his crazy idea of making food dyes using fungi and I fell in love with it…”

‘Scaling up from lab scale to pilot scale is often an area where synbio fermentation companies fail’

Fed with low-cost feedstocks in bioreactors, the fungi secrete colors into the media where they are growing, added Cassini, “sowe don’t have to break the cell to extract the color, which makes the downstream process way cheaper and simpler. It’s a simple filtration process and then the color is dried or concentrated.”

So what happens to the biomass that’s left over after the color has been harvested? “It has a high content of protein with all the essential amino acids and fiber that still retains a little bit of color, which makes it a very interesting byproduct for processed meat companies and plant-based meat companies,” ​said Cassini.

“Scaling up from lab scale to pilot scale is often an area where synbio fermentation companies fail, so we are really proud that we have scaled up to pilot scale with a CMO partner in Argentina, and we are in discussions with several CMOs here in the US and the rest of the world to scale up to industrial scale.”



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