3D Bioprinting Edible Gel with Living Oyster Mushroom Cells

Jenn Hoskins
10th April, 2024

3D Bioprinting Edible Gel with Living Oyster Mushroom Cells

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Researchers at the University of British Columbia developed a new hydrogel for 3D printing with mycelium
  • The mycelium-infused hydrogel can grow post-printing, creating living, eco-friendly materials
  • The bioprinting process does not require a sterile environment, reducing complexity and cost
Mycelium, the vegetative part of fungi, is gaining attention as a sustainable material for various industries. Researchers at the University of British Columbia have made significant progress in the field of biofabrication with their latest study[1]. They have developed a new hydrogel formulation that can be used for 3D bioprinting intricate structures using mycelium, specifically from the fungus Pleurotus ostreatus, commonly known as oyster mushroom. The construction industry is a major contributor to global CO2 emissions, primarily due to material extraction, processing, and demolition[2]. Mycelium biocomposites, which are renewable and biodegradable, have been proposed as alternatives to conventional building materials like polystyrene foam. Earlier research has shown that mycelium can be cultivated on various organic substrates, including agricultural waste and even waste cardboard, to create these composites[2][3]. This not only provides a use for waste products but also helps reduce the environmental impact of the construction sector. The study builds upon previous findings by exploring the potential of 3D bioprinting to create mycelium-based materials. 3D bioprinting is a process that allows for the layer-by-layer construction of three-dimensional structures. It offers the advantage of producing complex geometries that are difficult to achieve with traditional molding techniques. The research team designed a hydrogel consisting of malt extract, carboxymethylcellulose, cornstarch, and agar. These components act as nutrients, thickeners, and a gelling agent, respectively, creating a suitable environment for the mycelium to grow within the printed structure. This innovative approach to bioprinting with mycelium-infused hydrogel is significant because it allows for the fabrication of living materials. As the mycelium continues to grow post-printing, the structures can increase in size and change in hardness, opening up new possibilities for applications in areas such as mushroom cultivation, food production, and eco-friendly construction materials. One of the main challenges in working with biological materials is maintaining a sterile environment to prevent contamination. However, the researchers found that their bioprinting workflow did not require a sterile environment to achieve successful prints, which simplifies the process and reduces costs. Additionally, they demonstrated that by adding sawdust to the hydrogel, they could create mycelium biocomposite objects, further expanding the potential uses of this technology. The study's implications are far-reaching. By optimizing a hydrogel formulation for 3D bioprinting, the team has provided a foundation for future research and development of mycelium-based materials. The ability to print with living organisms could revolutionize the way we think about manufacturing and the lifecycle of products. Instead of producing waste, we could create objects that grow, evolve, and eventually biodegrade, aligning with the principles of a circular economy. The work also ties into the broader understanding of fungi and their role in degrading lignocellulose, a complex plant material[4]. The enzymes that fungi produce to break down lignocellulose are of great interest for industrial applications, including biofuel production and waste processing. The study at the University of British Columbia does not directly delve into enzyme activity but provides a practical application that benefits from the natural growth processes of fungi. In conclusion, the University of British Columbia's research represents a significant step forward in the field of sustainable materials and biofabrication. By leveraging the natural growth properties of mycelium and the precision of 3D bioprinting, the researchers have opened new doors for creating materials that are not only environmentally friendly but also functional and versatile. As this technology continues to develop, it has the potential to make a substantial impact on various industries, pushing us closer to a more sustainable future.



Main Study

1) 3D Bioprinting of Food Grade Hydrogel Infused with Living Pleurotus ostreatus Mycelium in Non-sterile Conditions.

Published 8th April, 2024


Related Studies

2) Three-Dimensional Printing of Living Mycelium-Based Composites: Material Compositions, Workflows, and Ways to Mitigate Contamination.


3) Advanced Materials From Fungal Mycelium: Fabrication and Tuning of Physical Properties.


4) Lignocellulose degradation: An overview of fungi and fungal enzymes involved in lignocellulose degradation.


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