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Growing mushrooms in a liquid, and on a large-scale for bio-based cosmetic products

Publication Date: 
Wednesday, November 10, 2021

In a first for Africa, the CSIR and biotechnology company Sawubona Mycelium have produced 800 litres of liquid cultivated mushrooms called Enokitake for bio-based cosmetic products.  

The CSIR assisted Sawubona Mycelium, a small, medium and micro enterprise (SMME), to scale up the production of high-value products from the mycelium of Enokitake using liquid-cultivation method. The company is bringing the global mushroom ingredients mega-trend to South Africa with the help of the CSIR Biomanufacturing Industrial Development Centre (BIDC).  

Contact Person

David Mandaha

+27 (12) 841 3654/072 126 8910

dmandaha@csir.co.za

In a first for Africa, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and biotechnology company Sawubona Mycelium have produced 800 litres of liquid cultivated mushrooms called Enokitake for bio-based cosmetic products.  

The CSIR assisted Sawubona Mycelium, a small, medium and micro enterprise (SMME), to scale up the production of high-value products from the mycelium of Enokitake using liquid-cultivation method. The company is bringing the global mushroom ingredients mega-trend to South Africa with the help of the CSIR Biomanufacturing Industrial Development Centre (BIDC).  

The BIDC availed its world-class equipment, and research and development expertise to the biotech company, which was founded by two fermentation scientists, Busi Moloi and Neo Moloi, in 2018. The company joined the BIDC programme in 2019.  

“As fermentation scientists, we developed an interest in using mushrooms to develop high-value ingredients for cosmetics, functional foods and pharmaceutical applications. When we eventually found an approach to doing this through the support received from the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), we felt that, as part of our scaling-up process for commercialisation, it would be important to test the efficiency of our product on a large scale.  

“We therefore applied to the CSIR/ DSI BIDC support programme, which gave us access to its facilities and research experts, with technical expertise to successfully produce up to 800 litres of the liquid-cultivated Enokitake,” says Neo Moloi of Sawubona Mycelium.  

From the liquid-based production process designed by CSIR researchers, the company has been able to extract a high-value compound containing beta-glucan. This compound is used in cosmetic products as an effective humectant and is beneficial for the skin microbiome used in cosmeceutical formulations.  

Additionally, as part of the production process, the researchers also produced enough biomass to convert it to a dried mushroom powder, which is useful in food products such as thickeners or in supplements in the form of immuno-boosters. 

“The conventional method of growing mushrooms is usually in a bed of soil or other material found in agriculture or similar. However, for this project, we decided to cultivate this organism in a liquid growth medium, which was not only a technology shift for South Africa, but it also allowed the SMME to derive more valuable and superior ingredients from Enokitake, which will provide them with an advantage as they explore two or more products from one mushroom-cultivation process,” says CSIR Principal Investigator, Dr Ghaneshree Moonsamy.  

“We are now working on a purification method that will be suitable for the cosmeceutical industry. The incorporation of the mushroom-derived active ingredients into skincare products to produce clean, more effective and safe-to- use beauty products has become a global phenomenon. Therefore, as Sawubona Mycelium, we aim to continue to harness natural flora and botanical extracts, which also includes the use of mushrooms indigenous to southern Africa to produce fermented bio-based cosmetic products for the South African market,” says Busi Moloi. 

The company currently has two technology products that have been developed and the process has been assigned a technology readiness level of eight (TRL 8). The BIDC has developed market samples for these Enokitake-derived products and has licensed the production technology to the SMME. 
 

-ENDS-

Issued by CSIR Strategic Communications

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David Mandaha: CSIR Media Relations Manager
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Mobile: 072 126 8910
Email: dmandaha@csir.co.za 

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