PoLoPo Unveils Molecular Farming Platform in Potato Plants to Grow Egg Proteins

Last year, the Israeli agrifood startup PoLoPo raised $2.3 million, including $1.75 million in a pre-seed funding round to further develop its plant molecular farming technology for producing animal proteins in potatoes.

Now, the startup unveils its molecular farming platform, SuperAA, already deployed in potato plants at a greenhouse scale. The initial focus of PoLoPo’s platform will be producing two key proteins: ovalbumin and patatin (the natural protein in potatoes).

“The SuperAA platform uses plants as living factories”  

Ovalbumin, widely used in packaged foods for its functional properties, presents an affordable alternative to the industry amidst increasing egg prices and supply chain disruptions. 

On the other hand, a patatin powder offers allergen-free protein suitable for various food products, from plant-based alternatives, such as DUG potato milk, to sports nutrition and nutraceuticals. Plant molecular farming is also used to produce growth factors for use in cultivated meat.

PoLoPo CEO Maya Sapir-Mir shares, “The SuperAA platform uses plants as living factories, and leverages their natural productivity and storage organs to grow proteins that are identical to protein derived from a chicken’s egg.”

A woman hiding recently harvested potatoes
© Tal Shahar

Producing proteins in potatoes

As explained by the Israeli startup, the SuperAA platform leverages proprietary metabolic engineering techniques to turn potato plants into “micro-biofactories” that manufacture patatin and the targeted amino acids in the tuber.  When the potatoes reach the correct size, the proteins are extracted and dried into a powder. The resulting powder is said to integrate seamlessly into current food processing lines and formulations.

According to PoLoPo, using potatoes in its protein farming system allows it to scale its operations effectively and cost-efficiently. Potato plants offer several advantageous qualities, including adaptability to diverse climates, low growth costs, and quick maturation. In addition, they yield a high amount of produce per unit of land and are easy to harvest and process. Moreover, potatoes can be stored for long periods of time. 

A sustainable food system

PoLoPo, co-founded by Sapir-Mir and Raya Liberman-Aloni in 2022, has won several innovation awards and honors, including the Coller Startup Competition and MassChallenge Israel’s Better Plate Track.

Sapir-Mir adds, “The high-scale production of proteins in plants via molecular farming has the potential to economically transform not only potato farming and processing, but broader agriculture and agtech, for a more resilient and sustainable food system.”

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