closeup photo of red and white mushroom
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University of Stirling scientists work on carbon negative food source

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University of Stirling scientists are working on a new carbon negative food source. If successful, it could create hundreds of jobs in the country.  

The pioneering project is led by Stirling University students and has received £800,000 in funds from the UK government. In an effort to deliver Net Zero targets and also highlight an overreliance on imports, the government wants to work on new, eco-friendly food sources.  

The aim is to successfully contribute to tackling climate change. Currently, all major food production in the UK emits greenhouse gases. These gases add to the country’s carbon footprint, which climate activists are trying to shrink. 

What is the food source? 

Research shows that planting fungi with trees, creating high-protein mushrooms, can isolate up to 12.8 tonnes of carbon per hectare annually. 

These mushrooms can be eaten fresh or turned into meat-alternative products. They can potentially create a food source for nearly 19 million people a year – across the globe.  

food wood kitchen cutting board
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Partnering with truffle producers Mycorrhizal Systems Ltd, the university has started a two-year trial on the Isle of Bute. Here researchers will cover root systems of new trees with the fungi that produces edible mushrooms. 

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), is the largest UK public funder of non-medical bioscience. They are providing funding for the project. 

BBSRC’s funding will create four new jobs and development of a new laboratory and trial facility on Bute.  

Honorary Professor Paul Thomas is the founder of Mycorrhizal Systems Ltd. He is in charge of assessing the environmental benefits as well as the wider economic impact. 

Mycorrhizal has invested £135,000 into this project.  

How it works

Professor Thomas said: “This is a game-changing idea which, if done at scale, will increase domestic food production, incentivise tree planting and help mitigate the impact of climate change.” 

Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences, Professor Alistair Jump, is the co-author of the research. He will also partner on this initiative. 

He said: “This project will place the UK at the forefront of EMF (ectomycorrhizal fungi) technology.  

“Research suggests a carbon sequestration rate of up to 406kg for every kg of protein produced whilst also aiding biodiversity and conservational goals.    

“This sequestration is in stark contrast to every other major food production system which results in an emission during production. 

“Much of the work will be distributed in rural areas, supporting a positive socio-economic impact through job creation and infrastructure development.    

“The innovation will also have a direct annual contribution to the UK economy and further economic benefits arise through the distribution chain.”   

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Second year student journalist studying Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Journalism Studies.
Writer for Brig and Discovery Music, Chief Sub Editor for Brig

Second year student journalist studying Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Journalism Studies.
Writer for Brig and Discovery Music, Chief Sub Editor for Brig

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