Algal Milk

Project Details

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.

  1. Milk production is energetically expensive, requiring 10 times more energy/kg than a similar amount of crop-based protein.
  2. It is responsible for approximately 4% of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, and large amounts of nitrate-rich effluents that burden receiving environments.
  3. Industrial milk production cannot presently be achieved without significant stress imposed on livestock.
  4. 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.
The potential to substitute livestock dairy with milk produced from carbon-neutral algae offers compelling solutions to these environmental and societal issues. Yet, it raises technical challenges that require innovative cross-disciplinary solutions, including:
  1. identifying appropriate algae species and determining optimal conditions for growth and protein production,
  2. selecting the suite of genes to express – casein, whey and other proteins,
  3. identifying appropriate genetic tools to transform and regulate the microalgae, and
  4. 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


Laurence Yang

Assistant Professor

Sanjeev Dahal

Postdoctoral Fellow

Herbert Yao

MASc Student

  • Publications
  • Coming soon
  • Software
  • Coming soon
  • Funding
  • 2020 - : Queen's Wicked Ideas Grant