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Stig Skrivergaard


Stig Skrivergaard


PhD project:CleanMeat – future sustainable muscle protein
University: Aarhus University
Department: Department of Food Science
Supervisor: Margrethe Therkildsen, Associate Professor
Co-supervisor: Jette Young, Associate Professor
Project term: 1/1/2020 – 30/11/2022
Master’s degree: MSc in Molecular Biology, Aarhus University


Traditional meat represents high quality easily-digestible nutritional components, which are however challenged by the climate agenda and plant based alternatives. Danish food production amounts for approximately 21% of the total Danish greenhouse gas emission (GHG). Animal-based food production has much higher climate impact per kg food compared to plant based food. This is due to a relatively low feed conversion ratio, especially for ruminants, and the demand for land and water use is high (FAO 2006, Gerber et al. 2013). Thus, any strategies to decrease these numbers are highly relevant to pursue in order to fulfill the Danish climate targets in 2030 (39 % reduction in GHG) and further in 2050 (carbon neutrality).

In Vitro (IV) meat might have climate friendly potential compared to traditional livestock production through less GHG emission, less land and water use, allowing for food-not-feed production (Tuomisto et al. 2011; Matick et al. 2015). In this context, IV tissue for food became a research area in the early 2000’s, and in 2013 the first noncommercial burger was launched based on IV primary bovine, but still no commercial products are available, because there are several important challenges to overcome.

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The project CleanMeat aims at establishing robust model systems to test IV meat, and to generate the necessary know-how on IV food production, which will contribute to Denmark’s future positioning in this field. In four research work packages we will 1) establish robust bovine muscle cell cultures with the capacity to grow, while still maintaining the characteristics to produce meat, 2) test alternatives to calf serum as growth media aiming at serum-reduced production, 3) characterize the functionality of the produced products and finally 4) develop Life Cycle Assessment models of the IV produced CleanMeat under the developed production systems.


Research outline

IV production of meat requires stem cells from a living animal, which can be obtained as a muscle biopsy from a living animal. These cells must be carefully isolated using specific culturing techniques, still keeping their replicative capacity, and providing the right environment for them to proliferate and finally differentiate into primitive myotubes, which are multinucleated muscle fibers. Proliferation and differentiation will be analyzed using real time qPCR. A 3-D printer for bio-printing of cell-cultures and bio-compatible scaffolds will be utilized for creating complex 3-D cell-structures that better resemble the complexity of real meat. The fat and protein composition of the products will be characterized, and the transition from muscle to meat described, using Western Blotting, enzyme activity assays, water holding capacity assays etc.


Partners of collaboration

Department of Animal Science, AU

Department of Agro Ecology, AU

Department of Clinical Medicine, AU

Aarhus University School of Engineering


Hovedområde: Kød og kødprodukter,



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