Producing Milk Protein using Lettuce Plant
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Pigmentum, an Israel-based start-up, produces casein—a milk protein—using the lettuce plant as a host. By genetically modifying lettuce plants in hi-tech greenhouses, the company intends to make “casein,” as it is the main ingredient in cheese making.
Their functional protein can be a game changer in the dairy alternative industry, as 80 percent of cow’s milk contains casein, which helps in the milk curdling and cheese formulation. Cheese cannot be made from milk alternatives, such as almond, soy, or rice milk.
WHAT IS THE TECHNOLOGY BEHIND IT?
The company has genetically modified a romaine lettuce plant, which they use as a molecular vehicle for casein production. Their innovative molecular farming technology is based on the inducible mechanism in transgenic plants, which means that the plant gene encoding the compound of interest will activate only in response to external stimuli. According to the company, their plant choice is lettuce owing to its high breeding rate.
The company is employing its technology to produce other natural compounds to be used in the food, pharma, and cosmetic industries on a large scale.
SOME OF THE KEY BENEFITS OF THIS MILK PRODUCTION APPROACH
- Through this approach, the company produces animal-free milk proteins in high yield.
- The milk produced through this approach is highly sustainable.
- The average production cost of this milk at a large scale is significantly low.
- The yield of casein is remarkably improved through genetic modification.
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