Growth of fungi and yeasts in food production waste streams : a feasibility study

D. Bansfield*, K. Spilling, A. Mikola, J. Piiparinen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
28 Downloads (Pure)


Food production produces nutrient-rich waste streams which, depending on local legislation, are either sent to wastewater treatment plants or discharged into the environment. In addition to causing environmental harm in the second instance, valuable nutrients are lost. A more circular approach would be to reuse these waste streams. Fungi and yeasts are ideal candidates as they require lots of organic carbon (which is especially high in food production waste streams) for growth, with the potential for producing value-added biomass. Here, we tested the metabolic activity and possible growth of seven fungi and three yeasts in five different food production waste streams. Initial tests were done to find the most promising waste streams for growth and these were chosen for further study. All species were then cultured in these waste streams and oxygen uptake was measured to gauge metabolic activity which we used as a proxy for growth rate. Pelletization’s effect on metabolic rates was tested on the most pellet-forming species, by adding agar to inhibit pellet formation. The most promising waste stream for yeast/fungal growth was cheese whey (Whey). Pellet inhibition (i.e., filamentous growth) resulted in increased metabolic activity of cells in the confectionary bakery waste stream with agar but decreased metabolic activity in Whey with agar. The best-growing species, Geotrichum candidum, has potential commercial value as a producer of enzymes, biochemicals and lipids and could provide added value while improving the circularity of water and nutrients in food production.

Original languageEnglish
Article number328
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Microbiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Nov 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Biomass
  • Circular economy
  • Fungi
  • Side streams
  • Sustainability
  • Water reuse
  • Yeasts


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