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University of Lisbon scientists to use algae to create cell-based seabass fillets

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2 min read
AUTHOR: Fiona Holland
Light rays filter through a Giant Kelp forest

A group of scientists from the University of Lisbon’s Institute for Bioengineering and Biosciences are undertaking a project to create a new type of boneless cell-based seabass.

Associate Professor Frederico Ferreira is leading the project called Algae2Fish, which has received funding from The Good Food Institute (GFI).

The scientists will extract cells from seabass without causing any pain to the animal and plan to use techniques including 3D printing to create edible scaffolds using material extracted from algae and plants.The team hopes this method will help add the fibrous texture that is so often associated with fish products.

Antioxidant-packed algae will add additional nutritional value to thethe lab-grown seabass, including omega-3 fatty oils that are commonly found in fish.  

The team are also hoping electrical stimulation will ignite the fish stem cells’ transformation into the correct muscle and fat needed for the product. Once this muscle and fat has been achieved, different ‘bio-inks’ can be created with 3D-printing to build a specific structure in the product which emulates a similar flavour and texture to a traditional seabass fillet.

Associate Professor at the Institute for Bioengineering and Biosciences, Instituto Superior Técnico, University of Lisbon, Frederico Ferreira, said: “In Portuguese we have a saying – a fish without bones is a problem solved. This will create a boneless fillet, which will be very good for kids to eat, but I hope it will also help solve a lot of other problems.”

Science and technology manager at the GFI Europe, Seren Kell, said: “Professor Ferreira’s project is an excellent example of the kind of innovative research we need to provide people with the fish they enjoy without harming our oceans.

“There are huge opportunities for more companies and governments to invest in plant-based and cultivated seafood to meet growing demand in a sustainable way and I hope this study will show others exactly what is possible.”

If the project works, it could become a sustainable alternative to conventional forms of seafood. Overfishing has been depleting the oceans of fish, overexploiting seafood stocks by over a third, according to the UN.

Algae2Fish was one of the winning teams out of 21 groups who applied for the GFI Competitive Research Grant programme. The grant funds projects that aim to research more innovative ways of creating plant-based, cultivated, and fermented foods. The grant was set up with help from philanthropic donors.

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