MycoTechnology leverages mycelial fermentation to unlock plant proteins

By Danielle Masterson

- Last updated on GMT

Getty images / Edalin
Getty images / Edalin

Related tags Fermentation Shiitake Protein plant protein mycelium Ift

A patented mushroom mycelia fermentation platform is paving the way to next-gen plant proteins, according to a recent animal study.

Researchers from the University of Illinois and Cornell University explored digestibility, nutritional value, physical properties, and organoleptic characteristics of a pea and rice protein concentrate blend through fermentation with shiitake mushroom mycelium as compared to the same unfermented pea and rice protein blend.

The research, published in the journal Food Science and Technology​, found that MycoTechnology’s FermentIQ PTP protein powder – produced by mycelial fermentation of a pea and rice protein blend– delivered better amino acid absorption than the unfermented protein blend. 

Additionally, the researchers found that transforming the plant-based proteins with MycoTechnology’s patented fermentation process enabled 99.9% of the protein consumed to be digested. MycoTechnology​ asserted that this opens the door to higher quality plant protein products in markets where optimized protein uptake is especially desirable, including the sports, senior, and fortified nutrition sectors.

The study

Two diets were formulated with the unfermented and fermented protein blends included in one diet each as the only amino acid containing ingredient. The third diet was a nitrogen-free diet that was used to measure basal endogenous losses of crude protein amino acids. Vitamins and minerals were included in all diets to meet or exceed current requirement estimates for growing pigs. All diets also contained 0.4% titanium dioxide as an indigestible marker, and all diets were provided in meal form.

Nine male pigs at 10 weeks of age were provided randomly assigned meals and all pigs were fed their diet in a daily amount of 3.3 times the estimated energy requirement for maintenance. Fecal and ileal digesta samples were collected for analyzation. 

Key takeaways 

  • Plant derived protein is becoming a common replacement of animal derived protein
  • Lower nutritional value and poor organoleptic performance are two negative characteristics of plant proteins
  • Shiitake mycelium fermentation improves digestibility of plant protein and removes some antinutrients
  • Off-notes flavors are greatly reduced or eliminated by the shiitake fermentation as well, improving taste

Overall, the study indicated increases in the digestibility for the shiitake fermented pea and rice protein blend turning the blend into an optimal source of protein for humans. The fermentation also increases the solubility of the protein blend and reduces the content of the antinutrient compounds phytates and protease inhibitor. Mass spectrometry and sensory analyses of the fermented protein blend indicated that fermentation led to a reduction in off-note compounds substantially improving its organoleptic performance.


“The benefits of fermentation on pea protein taste and aroma has been demonstrated by Schindler and colleagues (Schindler et al., 2012). However, to our knowledge, the work presented here is the first successful application of fungal fermentation for the improvement of plant-based protein concentration. The action of the fungal mycelium results in a reduction of compounds negatively impacting the organoleptic characteristics of plant proteins while improving the digestibility and reducing antinutrient contents. This pioneering work will most certainly serve as a basis for future application of mycelial fermentation to improve the quality of low-quality sources to meet the food standards associated with food ingredients,”​ the researchers concluded. 

IFT Expo 2022

​FermentIQ proteins will be highlighted in Chicago this week at IFT Expo. Exhibiting at Booth #S3621, MycoTechnology’s experts will be on hand to discuss the findings of the study and how they translate into the production of plant proteins with transformative benefits.



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