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.
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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.
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.
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
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
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.
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