Bovine milk is a vital source of global nutrition, with over 270 million dairy cows worldwide producing
over 600 million tons of milk annually.
Milk production from livestock, however, raises significant
environmental, ethical and social concerns.
The potential to substitute livestock dairy with milk produced from carbon-neutral algae offers
compelling solutions to these environmental and societal issues.
- Milk production is energetically expensive, requiring 10
times more energy/kg than a similar amount of crop-based protein.
It is responsible for
approximately 4% of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, and large amounts of nitrate-rich
effluents that burden receiving environments.
Industrial milk production cannot presently be achieved
without significant stress imposed on livestock.
Livestock cannot be housed in all geographic
locations, hence for many First Nations and communities located in non–arable regions, milk and milk
products need to be shipped, elevating both prices and fossil fuel emissions.
Yet, it raises technical challenges that
require innovative cross-disciplinary solutions, including:
identifying appropriate algae species and
determining optimal conditions for growth and protein production,
selecting the suite of genes to
express – casein, whey and other proteins,
identifying appropriate genetic tools to transform and
regulate the microalgae, and
efficient algal product extraction, purification and assessment of allergen effects.
There are also regulatory (quality, safety) and socio-economic constraints related to the effective
introduction of new algae-based milk products into rapidly changing food marketing, distribution and
consumption systems. These factors must be addressed for this new food source to positively transform
our current food system.
Our lab is working to:
develop detailed, mechanistic models
of algae metabolism and protein
expression and resource allocation
generate model-derived blueprints of
performance-optimized algae strains
and culture conditions