The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: Could meat genes be added to plants to make meat fit for vegetarians?  (Read 1819 times)

Offline distimpson

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 118
    • View Profile
    • Kansas Meteorite Museum & Nature Center
Have people tried putting genes for actin/myosin in plants? The idea would be to make them more like animal source protein. Throw another green burger on the barbie. Sorry if this is an old topic, I tried to search but wasn't sure what terms to use, "meat plants" didn't come up.
« Last Edit: 08/07/2013 17:51:17 by chris »


 

Offline chris

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 5339
  • Thanked: 65 times
  • The Naked Scientist
    • View Profile
    • The Naked Scientists
Interesting question; I am not sure what would happen under these circumstances; muscle tissue is long filaments; plant cells are not syncitial (fused) like muscle, so there would be a limit on how long the filaments could become; this would affect texture, taste etc. I'll do some poking to see if anyone's done this though...
 

Offline Lmnre

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 178
    • View Profile
I'm thinking that nitrogen is the limiting factor. Molecular nitrogen (N2) composes about 78% of the atmosphere, but it is fairly stable, and so, it remains useless to most plants.

Proteins are composed of strands of amino acids, which in turn, contain amine groups, NH2 (and thus the name "amino acid").The low amount of nitrogen available to most types of plants seems to prevent them from producing a significant amount of proteins.

However, legumes, such as soy, attract nitrogen-fixing bacteria. The term "fixing" means converting the atmospheric nitrogen (N2) into ammonia (NH3). The legumes (or other nearby plants), can then use the ammonia to make amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins. This is why tofu, which is soy bean curd, is high enough in protein to act as a meat substitute.
 

Offline evan_au

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 4120
  • Thanked: 245 times
    • View Profile
While some plants have significant amounts of certain proteins, they also have considerable amounts of other substances like cellulose.

Since muscle is mostly protein (plus fats), it would be hard to produce a plant that reached the same high percentage of proteins as found in muscle.

If you want this plant for nutritional reasons, there is no reason for the proteins to be in the form of actin/myosin fibers, since your gut breaks these down into short amino acids before digesting them.

You could possibly achieve something with similar nutritional content as meat, but it would probably have less protein & fat density, and a radically different texture & taste (eg tofu, as Lmnre says).
 

Offline CliffordK

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 6321
  • Thanked: 3 times
  • Site Moderator
    • View Profile
There have been some efforts to make synthetic meat.  Perhaps we'll start seeing it in the market in the next decade or so.

http://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?topic=44165.0
http://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?topic=43313.0

No doubt, at least initially, any synthetic meat will be a combination of plant and bacteria products.
 

Offline distimpson

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 118
    • View Profile
    • Kansas Meteorite Museum & Nature Center
understood on the texture issue, when I tried to be vegan the tofu consistency kept coming up. although I've had soy food prepared that was difficult to tell it was not an animal product, a master chef indeed.

I live in rural Kansas, pressures on factory farming to produce and make more profit are increasing, if regulations are discarded I can't help but believe safety will be sacrificed. More people need more everything.
 

The Naked Scientists Forum


 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums
 
Login
Login with username, password and session length