Engineering Biology
Food & Agriculture Challenge:

Produce more food for a growing global population.

Advance the quality of plant-based meat products and improve large-scale manufacturing capabilities.

Engineering Biology Objectives & Technical Achievements

Diversify raw material supply chains and improve sensory performance ingredients for incorporation into plant-based meat.

Engineering DNA Biomolecular Engineering Host Engineering Data Science

Alter high-protein crops for even higher protein accumulation and/or bias toward accumulation of high-performing storage proteins for plant-based meat applications.

Alter lipid synthesis pathways of common oilseed crops to produce higher levels of high-value lipids that are traditionally scarce in plant sources (including saturated fats, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)).

Edit crop plants for lower levels of secondary metabolites that negatively impact taste (such as saponins and other components of bitter or beany off-flavors).

Identify new methods for storage and/or scavenging to improve shelf life of less-highly-refined fractions (for example, to slow oxidation and rancidity in plant flours with residual oil).

Identify plant-sourced homologs or synthetic mimics of proteins or small molecules determined to play critical roles in the taste of various types of meat.

Perform thorough genetic, phenotypic, and compositional characterization of underutilized crops to identify promising candidates for novel sources of proteins, flavorings, or other functional ingredients.

Engineer promising specialty crop candidates for plant protein sources to achieve the same agronomic yield gains, robustness to pests, and abiotic stress, that are already standard in commodity crops.

Explore capability of microbial fermentation to improve sensory and functional properties of plant proteins and other raw materials through, for example, enzyme secretion and selective metabolism of undesirable components.

Engineer high-efficiency microbial production hosts to produce functional proteins or flavoring ingredients through synthetic biology and novel metabolic pathway introduction.

Capture and store agronomic data along with raw material characterization data to enhance predictive capacity for how growing conditions, soil, weather, etc., affect the end product.

Develop better analytical tools for assessing/predicting functionality or performance of complex fractions of plant ingredients.

Identify compositional signatures (for example, through mass spectrometry or capillary electrophoresis) that can be used as analytical tools to characterize nuanced performance characteristics of lots of raw materials.

Improve large-scale manufacturing and texturization of plant-based meat.

Engineering DNA Biomolecular Engineering Host Engineering Data Science

Edit crop plants for higher efficiency of fractionation into protein, starch, fiber, and oil components.

Develop new food processing enzymes (rationally designed or through directed evolution) that are optimized for plant-based substrates to improve raw ingredient functionalization (for example, hydrolysis or cross-linking of plant proteins to improve solubility, water-binding capacity, and gelling).

Develop methods for microencapsulating ingredients like flavors and fats in edible ingredients such that they remain protected and stable during high-pressure processing.

Engineer crop plants for modified proteins that have natively improved functional properties for plant-based meat processing (such as solubility, cross-linking capability and fat-binding capacity).

Develop mechanistic models of plant protein denaturation, alignment, and crystallization within the context of high-shear processing methods like extrusion, to inform the process variables for a given composition of input materials.

Last updated: June 19, 2019 Back