Designing an Algal Co-Culture System for Increased Sustainability in Cellular Agriculture

Authors: Jake Marko; Jillian Forauer; Joseph Shih; Timothy Berry

Advisors: Glenn Gaudette; Tanja Dominko; David DiBiasio

Category: Undergraduate

The global demand for meat is expected to double in the next half-century, but current meat production practices pose significant hazards to the environment and human health. The emerging field of cellular agriculture has the potential to solve problems associated with traditional animal agriculture by culturing animal products in vitro. Cellular agriculture is potentially more environmentally sustainable, but there are hurdles to overcome in large-scale production. Cell culture media is the solution in which the cells are grown, and it can be a limiting factor in the cost and environmental impact of large-scale cellular agriculture. There is a need to extend the lifetime of the media by removing metabolic waste products and replenishing the media with nutrients. This would reduce media-associated costs and the water and energy usage of the system. This project aimed to create a co-culture system of primary bovine satellite cells (PBSCs) and the microalgae, C. reinhardtii, to extend the media lifetime and improve the sustainability of large-scale cellular agriculture. The success of this system was assessed by collecting data on dissolved oxygen concentrations, culture pH, and cell viability. The data suggest that PBSCs can remain viable in co-culture with C. reinhardtii and that the system increases dissolved oxygen and slows the pH drop normally observed in animal cell culture. This system should be further explored to optimize the media recycling potential of C. reinhardtii co-cultures.

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