Natural pigment--another property of fungi

In the project, Rebecca Gmoser, a doctoral student in Resource Recovery, has investigated various factors that affect fungal cultivation processes to see what makes them increase or decrease pigment production.

"We have seen that this fungus produces an orange dye in nature. It is the same substance as in tomatoes or carrots. The pigment acts as protection for the fungus," she says.

In the project, she has done various experiments to design a process for best pigment production.

"For example, it was not always possible to get it to form pigment when it grew on liquid. I had to find factors that stressed the fungus, such as light, growing in a solid form, high airing and poor access to nutrition,” says Rebecca Gmoser.

Can replace synthetic pigments

Dyes are used, among other things, to give food a more appetising colour. At present, synthetic pigment is often used. Using sponge means the dyes are natural and edible and can be used, for example, as feed for salmon or pets.

"But this is not economically viable at the moment, as the process still takes a long time and requires a lot of space," concludes Rebecca Gmoser.

The project has been carried out together with Lantmännen Agroetanol. The substrate used to grow the fungus consists of residues from the ethanol industry. This will vary in other projects, and Rebecca Gmoser will, among other things, participate in the project "Ways2Taste" to see if it is possible to use other waste products as a substrate and to work further on the process's design.

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About the research area Resource recovery

Text and photo: Anna Kjellsson

Translation: Eva Medin