With exponential population rise it gets substantially more difficult to supply meat to every individual due to the resources required. Byproducts and waste from current methods harm the environment with increasing consequences over time and by 2050 the demand for livestock products is projected to double. This means more land pollution, deforestation, antibiotic resistance, and gas emissions will consequently follow the growing human demand for these products. Solving this issue has potential for a multibillion dollar industry because it is crucial to find an alternative to this problem before the earth is further exhausted of its resources. The purpose of this experiment is to build a foundation for a greener alternative to the current livestock problem, one that will benefit the environment, humans, and animals.
In this experiment, myogenesis, the ability of mononuclear muscle progenitor cells to fuse into mature muscle fibers is explored in separate species of common livestock; pork, chicken, and turkey. Once optimal conditions for myocyte development are established, the species are compared through a muscle cell fusion assay, which determines the capacity of mononuclear muscle cells to fuse together into a mature multinucleated muscle fiber. The assay will determine a rate and efficiency of fusion by fluorescently tagging a myosin heavy chain protein in muscle fibers. This will assess how effectively cells from each species form muscle fibers which then in turn form meat when layered by the thousands. By knowing the conditions and efficiency of each species an attempt at bioengineering larger samples in-vitro can be made.
This experiment explores the in-vitro myogenic process involved in bioengineering pork, turkey and chicken meat. The myogenic capacity of each cell type is derived through a fusion assay which is performed when myoblasts have differentiated. The cells are fixed and examined via fluorescent spectroscopy to determine which species undergoes this process more effectively. The experiment will generate data to build a foundation to bioengineer larger samples outside of their natural host in order to push toward a more environmentally-friendly method of producing meat for the constantly-growing human population. The benefits of alternative meat sourcing include less greenhouse emissions, decreased fresh water consumption and pollution, reallocation of current agricultural land towards other use, and a more ethical approach to animal agriculture.