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Chapter 10
Future Perspectives
Abstract Future perspectives on single-cell protein (SCP) from lignocellulose
biomass are presented. Microbial protein may be a sustainable future protein source
to fulfil the requirements of human and animal food supplement. There is a need to
solve issues related to nucleic acid content, toxicity, palatability and consumer
acceptability of SCP.
Keywords Single-cell protein Nucleic acid Nuclease
microbial protein, food, feed Consumer acceptability
Toxicity, palatability
Biotechnology has a long history of producing food and feeds. The main feature of
today’s market economy is that protein production by traditional agriculture-based
food supply chains is becoming an important matter in terms of global environmental pollution, for example, diffuse nutrient and greenhouse gas emissions, land
use and water footprint (Matassa et al. 2016). Time has come to re-examine the
current potentials of producing protein-rich feed or food additives in the form of
algae, yeasts, fungi and plain bacterial cellular biomass, producible with reduced
environmental footprint in comparison with other plant- or animal-based alternatives. An important driver is the requirement to no longer disintegrate but rather
upgrade a variety of low-value organic and inorganic side streams in our current
non-cyclic economy. Microbial bioconversions of such valuable matters to nutritive
microbial cells and cell components are a powerful asset in this context. The global
market of animal protein is of the order of several hundred million tonnes per year,
that of plant protein several billion tonnes of protein per year. So, the expansion of
the production of microbial protein does not pose disruptive challenges towards the
process of the latter. Besides protein, other cellular components such as lipids,
polyhydroxybutyrate, exopolymeric saccharides, carotenoids, (pro)vitamins, ectorines and essential amino acids can be of value for the growing domain of novel
nutrition. In order for microbial protein as feed or food to become a major and
sustainable alternative, addressing the challenges of creating awareness and
obtaining public and broader regulatory acceptance are real and should be
addressed with care and expedience. Most of the microorganisms used as producers
© The Author(s) 2017
P. Bajpai, Single Cell Protein Production from Lignocellulosic Biomass,
SpringerBriefs in Green Chemistry for Sustainability,
DOI 10.1007/978-981-10-5873-8_10
Future Perspectives
of single-cell protein grow as single or filamentous individuals rather than as
complex multicellular organisms such as plants or animals. Use of microorganisms
in the production of proteins shows many advantages over the conventional
methods (Anupama Ravindra 2000). Microbes have shorter generation time;
transformation is easier, can use different types of substrates, have no requirements
in arable land or any particular season to grow and have the possibility of continuous production in any part of the world. The cell yield varies according to the
type of microorganism and the substrate.
Single-cell protein can substitute completely or moderately the valuable amount
of traditional protein feed. For the same, expansion of technologies using agriculture and food waste products is expected to play an important role for the
production of single-cell protein and may also be possible solutions for meeting out
the requirements of protein. The single-cell protein production is useful for
reducing waste disposal problems showing sustainable and an eco-friendly route
including reduction of production cost. Microbial protein as food has several
advantages over conventional proteins (Nasseri et al. 2011; Gour et al. 2015).
Microbial proteins are a healthy source of carbohydrates, vitamins and carotenes.
Furthermore, the microbial proteins can be produced under normal settings. Thus,
land shortage and environmental calamities example drought or flood cannot be a
bottleneck in single-cell protein production. Therefore, looking over the significance of single-cell protein as protein supplements, it is required to develop clean
and green technology for its production on large scale for fulfilling the future global
The development of single-cell protein was really the beginning of biotechnology. Before this, the industrial fermentation was mainly focused on antibiotics and
other products which did not have to compete. This was not the case with
single-cell protein which had to compete with similar products in the market. The
development was brought up by the oil companies rather than the food companies,
because the oil companies could take the risk of a highly costly product out with no
real expected profit. They also had all the high technology required.
The efforts made so far by adding dry single-cell protein as a supplement to diets
for solving the problems of the hungry in the Third World Countries, certainly have
not given the expected results. Every new food which appears in the market should
have not only high nutritive quality but also satisfactory organoleptic supplementary element. Organoleptic properties are the aspects of food, water or other substances that an individual experiences via the senses—including taste, sight, smell
and touch. Today, in most countries where market forces operate, single-cell protein
cannot compete with soya, alfalfa or fish meal. Mushroom production from lignocellulosics seems to be one economical and promising use for single-cell protein
(Israelidis 1988).
For future success of single-cell protein, food technology problems have to be
solved first in order to make it similar to familiar foods and second, the production
should compare favourably with other protein sources.
The rapidly growing world population generates challenges for providing necessary food. One possible solution to this problem could be the microbial-mediated
Future Perspectives
production of single-cell protein. Bacteria, yeast, molds and algae are rich in proteins, vitamins, essential fatty acids and minerals. The digestibility of these proteins
and also most of the other constituents ranges from 65 to 95%. So, in the light of
protein shortage, microorganisms may offer possibilities for protein production.
They can be used to replace totally or partially the valuable amount of conventional
vegetable and animal protein feed. Microbial protein may be sustainable future
protein source to fulfil the requirements of human and animal food supplement
(Bhalla et al. 2009). There are some drawbacks such as the presence of
high-quantity nucleic acids in some organisms which makes them unsuitable for
human consumption unless the nucleic acids are removed. Furthermore, processing
of single-cell protein is also important because of vulnerability to contamination.
Looking over the importance of microorganisms as an important source of nutrition
in the coming years and their ability to grow on waste materials successfully and
producing high amount of quality protein, it is required to develop green-clean
technology for the large-scale production for fulfilling the needs of future and
sustainable environment.
There is a need to solve issues related to nucleic acid content, toxicity, palatability and consumer acceptability of SCP. Efforts are also needed to find out still
better and inexpensive substrates rather biodegradable waste from agriculture and
municipal activities and industries should be examined for the production of
SCP. Furthermore, those microorganisms need to be selected for SCP production
which in addition protein have some health-promoting biomolecules. The research
and development in these lines will really lead to harness the potential of microbes
to significantly supplement protein, oil and vitamin supply for domestic animal feed
and human food.
Anupama Ravindra P (2000) Value-added food: single cell protein. Biotechnol Adv 18:459–479
Bhalla TC, Mehta PK Savitri, Bhatia SK, Pratush A (2009) Microorganism_for_food_and_Feed…/303941522
Gour S, Nupur M, Anuradha S, Pradeep B (2015) Single cell protein production: a review. Int J
Curr Microbiol Appl Sci 4:251–262
Israelidis CJ (1988) Nutrition—single cell protein, twenty years later. Biopolitics: Proceedings
from First Biointernational Conference, vol I
Matassa S, Boon N, Pikaar I, Verstraete W (2016) Microbial protein: future sustainable food
supply route with low environmental footprint. Microb Biotechnol 9(5):568–575. doi:10.1111/
Nasseri AT, Rasoul-Amini S, Morowvat MH, Ghasemi Y (2011) Single cell protein: production
and process. Am J Food Technol 6(2):103–116
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