Plant cell cultures as food—aspects of sustainability and safety

Suvi T. Häkkinen (Corresponding Author), Heli Nygren, Liisa Nohynek, Riitta Puupponen-Pimiä, Raija Liisa Heiniö, Natalia Maiorova, Heiko Rischer, Anneli Ritala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
79 Downloads (Pure)


Key message: Sustainability and safety aspects of plant cell cultures as food are presented. Applicability of dairy side streams as carbon source and use of natural growth enhancers in cultivation are shown. Abstract: Biotechnologically produced cellular products are currently emerging to replace and add into the portfolio of agriculturally derived commodities. Plant cell cultures used for food could supplement current food production. However, still many aspects need to be resolved before this new food concept can enter the market. Issues related to sustainability and safety for human consumption are relevant for both consumers and regulators. In this study, two plant cell cultures, deriving from arctic bramble (Rubus arcticus) and birch (Betula pendula), were cultivated using lactose-rich dairy side streams as alternative carbon sources to replace sucrose. Biomasses were comparable to those of original plant cell culture media when up to 83% and 75% of the original sucrose was replaced by these side streams for arctic bramble and birch cell cultures, respectively. Furthermore, nutritional composition or sensory properties were not compromised. Synthetic plant growth regulators were replaced by natural components, such as coconut water and IAA for several subculture cycles. Finally, it was shown that only trace amounts of free growth regulators are present in the cells at the harvesting point and assessment by freshwater crustaceans assay indicated that toxicity of the cells was not exceeding that of traditionally consumed bilberry fruit.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1655–1668
JournalPlant Cell Reports
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Cellular agriculture
  • Dairy side stream
  • Food
  • Lactose
  • Plant cell cultures
  • Plant growth regulators
  • Carbohydrates/analysis
  • Cell Culture Techniques/methods
  • Plant Growth Regulators/analysis
  • Humans
  • Sustainable Development
  • Food Safety
  • Toxicity Tests/methods
  • Odorants
  • Daphnia/drug effects
  • Rubus/cytology
  • Sucrose/metabolism
  • Animals
  • Betula/cytology
  • Amino Acids/analysis
  • Culture Media/chemistry
  • Plant Cells/chemistry


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