This experiment is part of the Mycological Innovations Challenge Grant. Browse more projects

Increasing the bioavailability of carbohydrates through the interface of mycology and fermentation

Raised of $5,000 Goal
Funded on 9/29/22
Successfully Funded
  • $5,027
  • 100%
  • Funded
    on 9/29/22

About This Project

Due to increasing reliance on grain as a source of carbohydrates, shortages can occur if supply is interrupted. Learning more about carbohydrate alternatives during periods of uncertainty can increase the availability of foods and value-added products. In Hawaii, many tropical plants contain alternative sources of carbohydrates that have not been fully explored. Using mycology and fermentation we plan to increase the bioavailable carbohydrates to humans from these tropical plants.

Ask the Scientists

Join The Discussion

What is the context of this research?

The main goal of this project is to investigate the carbohydrate (sugars) availability in various fermented preparations by employing fungi. Aspergillus oryzae is a well-known fungus used to break down many raw materials, including wastewater. If these fungi can thrive off starch as the sole carbon source, they must produce lots of very efficient amylases (enzymes that break down sugar), by introducing these amylases into our bioreactor we predict that there will be an increased breakdown of unique plant material.

What is the significance of this project?

There are many sources of sugar (cellulose) that are considered indigestible by humans. We plan to utilize mycology and fermentation to render those carbohydrates usable in the form of fuels and other value-added products. This has broad implications such as farming - i.e. the conversion of unpalatable sugars to usable forms as animal feed.

Tropical environments have lots of unique fruits and sources of sugar. In addition, not much is known about how fungi break down carbohydrates in tropical environments. These answers will provide additional resources and methods to help communities that are heavily reliant on imported grains for nutrition. Increased access to carbohydrates helps to feed the world, stabilize economies, and drive innovation.

What are the goals of the project?

The goal is to test and refine methods employed in home and commercial mycology. This would include testing the capacity/efficiency of fungal growth chambers, together with advancing the interface of mycology/fermentation in the production of accessible sugars.

Upon construction of the chamber, verifying desired internal climates, large-scale growth of fungi will be attempted to further optimize production yields. This would be directly compared to fungal production in the commercial (Mella) growth chamber.

Once this goal is achieved, the project would then examine the viability of the different plant, root, and fruit materials through the use of the enzymes produced by the fungi for sugar production.


Please wait...

We run a fermentation biochemistry class that teaches techniques for conversion of carbohydrates to alcohol for use in industry. All materials are to decrease the work by the students and allow more creative expression.

I will be building a custom fungal growth chamber and comparing to a commercial brand (Mella). Once the growth of fungal material has been solidified, this material goes to the brewing system (SSbrewtech), which processes the raw carbohydrate and readies it for fermentation. Additionally, to get all of this to work together smoothly, pumps, hosing, and additional accessories would need to be purchased. All purchases would complete the automated workflow. The rest of the money would go to shipping (unknown), taxes (4%, 160$), and the various platform fees (@13%, 520$). Shipping to Hawaii is not available from those manufacturers and would have to go through a 3rd party, thus would be unknown for the exact value.

Endorsed by

Because Hawaii is composed of islands, this requires many resources to be imported. This project benefits Hawaii by using the products produced by the fermentation of fungi and utilizing various local sugar sources to make product that would otherwise have to be imported.
This is an excellent project. Learning how to better utilize resources here in Hawaii will help us to move away from importing so many products when we can use what is right around us. This project will also go deeper into areas of research that little is known about, and introduce us to different sources of nutrients and carbohydrates as well as developing methods to better acces these resources.
Mr. Sinclair, a Ph.D. student, has written an excellent research proposal on advancing translational mycology and brewery chemistry. Its success will change how we think about integrating fungal (by)products into foods. His work combines techniques in mushroom tissue and liquid cultures, together with enzymatic digests, to maximize available sugar content for bioprocessing. This optimization will also capture the mushrooms' unique flavors and health benefits and add significant value to these newly generated products.

Project Timeline

This project front-loaded with the construction of the automated, custom, growth chamber for fungi cultivation. Engineering the custom sensor array and growth chamber is expected to take a while as constructing the chamber and providing the correct sensing will require time to work together. Comparison between the commercial and custom growth chambers will then proceed. Materials generated would then be used/analyzed in a fermentation process.

Aug 15, 2022

Buy materials for growth chamber

Aug 26, 2022

Project Launched

Aug 29, 2022

Troubleshoot growth and sensor measurements

Sep 05, 2022

Start growth of large batch of Aspergillus (Mella)

Sep 05, 2022

Start growth of large batch of Aspergillus

Meet the Team

Nicholas Sinclair
Nicholas Sinclair
Ph.D. Candidate, Dr. Jon-Paul Bingham Laboratory


Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering Department, University of Hawai'i at Manoa
View Profile

Nicholas Sinclair

I'm a Ph.D. candidate at the Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering Department at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa. The main focus of my research is fermentation biochemistry although I also dabble in conotoxin biochemistry and aquaculture. Through fermentation, I hope to make a difference in the world by increasing carbohydrate stability and accessibility.

Lab Notes

Nothing posted yet.

Project Backers

  • 7Backers
  • 100%Funded
  • $5,027Total Donations
  • $718.14Average Donation
Please wait...