Mushroom protein can replace egg whites

The scientists modified the fungus's genes to make them secrete the main protein of egg whites with similar fluffy properties.

Egg white powder is popularly used as an ingredient in the food industry due to its high quality protein content. The consumption of egg protein in 2020 is about 1.6 million tons and the market is expected to expand further in the coming years.

Picture 1 of Mushroom protein can replace egg whites
Like egg white powder, ovalbumin from the fungus has a cottony texture.

Increased demand raises sustainability and ethical issues. Certain steps in the egg white flour production chain, such as raising egg-laying hens, generate large amounts of greenhouse gases and contribute to water scarcity, biodiversity loss and deforestation. In addition, concentrated chicken farms become reservoirs for pathogens and lead to outbreaks of zoonotic diseases.

However, it is possible that a "greener" alternative will soon emerge thanks to a fungus with the ability to produce a key protein in egg whites, New Atlas reported on January 7. Scientists at the University of Helsinki and the Finnish VTT Technology Research Center modified the genes of the filamentous fungus Trichoderma reesei so that they produce ovalbumin, which makes up more than half of the protein content in egg white powder. The new study is published in the journal Nature Food.

The team isolated the gene responsible for the production of ovalbumin in chickens, inserted it into the fungus, harvested the secreted protein, and then concentrated and dried it into a powder. When tested, the powder exhibits the same desirable properties as egg white powder, such as the ability to foam.

In addition, experts also confirmed, compared with the method of raising chickens for egg whites, the production of ovalbumin from mushrooms helps to reduce the land area used by nearly 90%, and at the same time reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 31% - 55%. . While it's not yet known exactly how much energy it takes to produce egg white protein in the new way, the team thinks it will be much less than on chicken farms. Using clean energy sources, they estimate, could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 72 percent.