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Mycoprotein prepared and served as a meat analogue

Mycoprotein (lit. "fungus protein") is a form of single-cell protein, also known as fungal protein, derived from fungi for human consumption.[1] Though it is generally well tolerated, some studies indicate that mycoprotein may cause allergic reactions in some people.[citation needed]


The first mycoprotein available to consumers is marketed under the brand name Quorn, created from Fusarium venenatum[2] and currently sold in 17 countries. It is a fermented product with a doughy consistency and slight mushroom flavor.

In the 1960s F. venenatum was identified by the British company, Rank Hovis McDougall, as a potential protein source for humans. F. venenatum was one of more than 3,000 species of fungi screened during a three-year period for being cheap to reproduce in fungiculture, nutritious, and palatable. Concerns for pathogen-potential of the species on plants led to a twelve-year testing process. Quorn was approved for use in the United Kingdom in 1983 and the United States in 2001.[citation needed]

In 2021 Chicago company Nature's Fynd released Fy Protein™, derived from another kind of Fusarium, termed "Fusarium strain flavolapis," an extremophile discovered in Yellowstone National Park, also called Fusarium novum yellowstonensis, originally Fusarium oxysporum MK7. [3]

In 2022 the food company Meati Inc. introduced MushroomRoot™, derived from Neurospora crassa[4] and based on patented research by the Better Meat Co. [5]


The fungus is grown in vats using glucose syrup as its food. A fermentation vat is filled with the growth medium and then inoculated with the fungal spores. The Fusarium venenatum culture respires aerobically, so for it to grow at an optimum rate, it is supplied with oxygen, and carbon dioxide is drawn from the vat. To make protein, nitrogen (in the form of ammonia) is added and vitamins and minerals needed to support growth. The vat is kept at a constant temperature. The fungus can double its mass every five hours.

Eventually the growth medium is drawn off from a tap at the bottom of the fermenter and the mycoprotein is separated and purified. It is a pale yellow solid with a faint taste of mushrooms. Different flavors and tastes can be added to the mycoprotein to add variety.[6]

A reproducible mutation occurs after 1,000 to 1,200 hours of cultivation in F. venenatum that greatly reduces the hypha length in the organism, which is considered unfavorable for production. Under normal conditions, this mutant strain will rapidly displace the parent strain.[2] Replacing ammonia with nitrate as the source of nitrogen, or supplementing ammonium cultures with peptone, prevents this mutant strain from overtaking the product, but still allows development. Alternatively, the appearance of the mutant can be delayed by selection pressures such as nutrient concentrations or pH levels.[2]

Health concerns[edit]

Some strains of F. venenatum produce a variety of mycotoxins, such as type A trichothecenes. Mycotoxin-producing genes such as isotrichodermin, isotricodermol, sambucinol, apo-trichothecen, culmorin, culmorone, and enniatin B can be found in cultures of F. venenatum.[2] Specific strains that do not produce mycotoxins under optimal conditions can be selected to reduce the danger to human consumers. Testing at six-hour intervals can be done to monitor mycotoxin presence.

There is continual testing for concerns of allergic reactions, which can range from abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting to severe asthmatic reactions,[2][7] especially when crossed with inhaled mold spores.[8]

Nutrition potential[edit]

Mycoprotein is able to provide greater satiety than traditional protein sources such as chicken, while also being low in caloric content. Replacing two servings of meat protein with mycoprotein can result in a daily deficit of 80 kilocalories (330 kJ),[9] whilst also extending the period of satiation, which is promising for weight management programs. Mycoprotein is rich in fiber and protein content, but very low in fat, making it a desirable food source for consumers trying to limit fat intake while still participating in a high protein diet.

F. venenatum's high fiber content also has potential in managing blood sugar levels and reducing cholesterol.[10][11][12]

The mechanism that links fiber content and F. venenatum's effect on managing glycemia and insulenaemia is not completely understood, but it is known to decrease the rate of glucose absorption and insulin secretion and it helps mitigate the maximum limit an amount of insulin can process glucose, known as insulin peak.[13]

Under optimum conditions F. venenatum biomass can be 42% protein while the fungal β-glucan present may also function as a prebiotic, stimulating the growth of health associated bacteria in the lower gut.[9] [14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Oxford English Dictionary
  2. ^ a b c d e Wiebe MG (March 2002). "Myco-protein from Fusarium venenatum: a well-established product for human consumption". Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology. 58 (4): 421–427. doi:10.1007/s00253-002-0931-x. PMID 11954786. S2CID 206934191.
  3. ^ "GRAS Notice 904". Retrieved 2023-11-16.
  4. ^ "What is meati whole cuts' star ingredient, MushroomRoot?". Retrieved 2023-09-27.
  5. ^ Poinski, Megan (25 October 2022). "The Better Meat Co. patents mycelium it says 'does an even better job of mimicking' meat".
  6. ^ Yoder WT, Christianson LM (February 1998). "Species-specific primers resolve members of Fusarium section Fusarium. Taxonomic status of the edible "Quorn" fungus reevaluated". Fungal Genetics and Biology. 23 (1): 68–80. doi:10.1006/fgbi.1997.1027. PMID 9501478.
  7. ^ Hoff M, Trüeb RM, Ballmer-Weber BK, Vieths S, Wuethrich B (May 2003). "Immediate-type hypersensitivity reaction to ingestion of mycoprotein (Quorn) in a patient allergic to molds caused by acidic ribosomal protein P2". The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 111 (5): 1106–1110. doi:10.1067/mai.2003.1339. PMID 12743577.
  8. ^ Van Durme P, Ceuppens JL, Cadot P (August 2003). "Allergy to ingested mycoprotein in a patient with mold spore inhalant allergy". The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 112 (2): 452–454. doi:10.1067/mai.2003.1613. PMID 12897757.
  9. ^ a b Williamson DA, Geiselman PJ, Lovejoy J, Greenway F, Volaufova J, Martin CK, et al. (January 2006). "Effects of consuming mycoprotein, tofu or chicken upon subsequent eating behaviour, hunger and safety". Appetite. 46 (1): 41–48. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2005.10.007. PMID 16364496. S2CID 25933762.
  10. ^ Farsi DN, Gallegos JL, Finnigan TJ, Cheung W, Munoz JM, Commane DM (August 2023). "The effects of substituting red and processed meat for mycoprotein on biomarkers of cardiovascular risk in healthy volunteers: an analysis of secondary endpoints from Mycomeat". European Journal of Nutrition. doi:10.1007/s00394-023-03238-1. PMID 37624376. S2CID 261121463.
  11. ^ Coelho MO, Monteyne AJ, Dirks ML, Finnigan TJ, Stephens FB, Wall BT (January 2021). "Daily mycoprotein consumption for 1 week does not affect insulin sensitivity or glycaemic control but modulates the plasma lipidome in healthy adults: a randomised controlled trial". The British Journal of Nutrition. 125 (2): 147–160. doi:10.1017/S0007114520002524. hdl:10871/122544. PMID 32660657. S2CID 220518655.
  12. ^ Shahid M, Gaines A, Coyle D, Alessandrini R, Finnigan T, Frost G, et al. (July 2023). "The effect of mycoprotein intake on biomarkers of human health: a systematic review and meta-analysis". The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 118 (1): 141–150. doi:10.1016/j.ajcnut.2023.03.019. PMID 37407163. S2CID 259354379.
  13. ^ Denny A, Aisbitt B, Lunn J (2008-12-01). "Mycoprotein and health". Nutrition Bulletin. 33 (4): 298–310. doi:10.1111/j.1467-3010.2008.00730.x. ISSN 1471-9827.
  14. ^ Farsi DN, Gallegos JL, Koutsidis G, Nelson A, Finnigan TJ, Cheung W, et al. (April 2023). "Substituting meat for mycoprotein reduces genotoxicity and increases the abundance of beneficial microbes in the gut: Mycomeat, a randomised crossover control trial". European Journal of Nutrition. 62 (3): 1479–1492. doi:10.1007/s00394-023-03088-x. PMC 10030420. PMID 36651990.

Further reading[edit]