Wildtype proposes cell-grown solution to fishing
It’s impossible to reinvent the wheel or turn back time to an era when fish stocks were unaffected by human activity, but it might be possible to produce fish-based food products without hunting a single fish.
That’s what a business called Wildtype has in mind, in a similar vein to the likes of Moolec Science and Mosa Meat, to name just a few innovators making waves in the world of in-vitro meat creation. Wildtype has its own unique approach when it comes to lab-grown seafood. But just how do you reinvent seafood to make it more sustainable?
Swimming against the tide
It’s in salmon’s nature to go against the tide. These special fish are born in rivers and lakes, before spending five years maturing out at sea. When the time comes for them to breed, these fish make the arduous journey back up the river they originated from. Not all of them make the return journey, but those that do kickstart the lifecycle for the next generation to follow in their wake.
Wildtype is swimming against the tide in its own way, using the flag of creating an entirely new and more sustainable form of seafood which is the product of what they call cellular agriculture. Fish such as salmon can be easily contaminated by chemicals such as mercury and pollution such as microplastics during their short lives at sea.
Wildtype forgoes this contamination, sourcing salmon cells from healthy Coho or Silver salmon, which are typically found off the Pacific coast of the United States. At a specialised plant in San Francisco, Wildtype builds plant-based scaffolds and places them in special nutrient-rich solutions with salmon tissues to cultivate the cells and ensure they grow in a familiar salmon-like shape.
The end product is a sample of cell-grown salmon which Wildtype has confirmed as being deemed sushi-grade. Of course, by growing pure muscle-tissue alone, naturally-occurring fats won’t be present. As seen in cultivating cow-based in-vitro meat, the cells used will typically consist of one cell type, the muscle tissue. While this sounds like an easy stumbling block for in-vitro meat producers, it provides them with an opportunity to guarantee a nutritious meal every time.
That’s because the Wildtype team are on-hand to implant omega-3 and omega-6 fats into the cell culture as it grows on the plant-based scaffolds, offering up a nutritionally-balanced meal which serves as effective brain food. Such a method of producing salmon or other seafood products could make a marked difference. It was estimated that one million metric tonnes of salmon were caught in 2018.
So long as agenda setting organisations such as Wildtype keep a plentiful supply of healthy salmon cell cultures in their possession, such species of fish need not be caught in the numbers we’ve become accustomed to in the past. If such techniques as those Wildtype employs catch on, fish stocks may be allowed to recover as demand for the conventional forms of seafood are superseded by in-vitro alternatives.