Fungal Biotechnology & Natural Dyes with Ricky Cassini – Mushroom Revival

Fungal Biotechnology & Natural Dyes with Ricky Cassini



Meet Michroma — an innovative startup from Indie Bio making natural food and cosmetic dyes from fungi! We are joined by co-founder Ricky Cassini, a young entrepreneur and newfound scientist to talk about Michroma's projects and how impactful this research and development is for industrial colorants. Ricky shares some intriguing insights to their process of working with filamentous fungi and how the team is optimizing their methods for a safe, effective and versatile dye. We also discuss the culture and the hurdles of being a biotechnology startup, followed by our two sense for fellow up and coming businesses. Prepare to be amazed once again at the practical applications of fungi in crevices of our day to day lives.
Ricky Cassini is the CEO and co-founder of Michroma, based in Argentina. The Michroma Team went through Indie Bio’s accelerator program and focuses on creating naturally derived colorants from fungi.



Alex 0:22
Welcome, welcome everyone to another episode of the mushroom revival podcast. This is a podcast bridging the gap between You are beautiful, amazing, spectacular mushroom listeners and viewers and the wacky wonderful world of mushrooms and fungi. So we bring on guests and experts from all around the globe to tune in and shroom in with us, and take us on a fungal journey into the depths of mycology and the world of mushrooms. So we are mushrooming the culture around mushrooms, we are unbelievably obsessed with the healing power of mushrooms. Let's dive in.

Lera 1:10
Today we have the co founder and CEO of Michroma, which is a really interesting startup that went through the Indy bio accelerator program, Ricky Cassini. Thank you for joining us and tuning in all the way from Argentina.

Ricky 1:24
Thank you. It's a pleasure for me to be part of this wonderful podcast.

Lera 1:30
I saw the article on medium. I think that was the first dive that I really got into Michroma. And then actually took a indiebio webinar where your other co founder, Mauricio was talking, I think what you guys are doing is amazing. Could you give our listeners a quick origin story? And what exactly you're up to at Michroma?

Ricky 1:52
Yeah, sure. So let me introduce myself. So you know, you know who you're talking to. I'm Ricky and the CEO, and 25 years old. So I'm pretty young. This is my my first time in a startup. And my first time intrapreneur. And I come from a business background. So not related to life sciences, not related to mushrooms. But I fell in love with them after starting Michroma. So I was working as a business consultant, I was working as a professor of operational logistics. And I always loved innovation. And that that's why I kept curious about it. And I was really curious about biotech. And that's when I met my co founder, Mauricio, he's a PhD in biological sciences. So he, he had the idea, actually, he this cover finger, they could produce the color in the lab. And this was the starter of Michroma. He showed me what he was working on. He showed me the potential of fun guy, and all the cool things that we could do together. And I thought that it was perfect that I had to switch from my traditional shop, doing things that doesn't matter to anyone to do something related to innovation to do something that it could create an impact in the world. And that's, that's, that's when I decided to quit my shop and showing Mauricio in creating Michroma, almost two years ago now. So also, we are really early stage.

Alex 3:40
And I'm I'm also 25, and also CEO of a startup that's around the same, you know, age. And it's hard, you know, and I'm sure you've had some nights, especially with something, that one is a biological organism. And so they're finicky. And the other thing is, it's it's biotech. And so it's new, and there's a ton of r&d that has to go into it. So I'm sure you failed a million times. And I'm just curious to hear some of those stories of what was kind of the hardest point in this journey for you or continues to be the hardest point.

Ricky 4:22
Well, in my case, I had to learn a lot about science, a lot about fungi, about fermentation about all the technology that we are creating because it was completely new for me. But in general, the biggest problem is enterpreneurship is like a emotional roller coaster. So you I'm sure you know about it. But sometimes you think that everything is perfect, and you're doing all right, and you're going to change the world. And sometimes you think, Hey, I'm going to fail. This is too hard. I need to tire so That's what's really hard, always having a new startup not only a biotech startup, but in general, what is also really important is to have resilience to keep going. And to know that what you are trying to do is something that we could create a big impact in the world, like I said before, and that's what keeps us going. For example, the problem that we had when we were selected for Indy bio, so in device the largest Life Sciences accelerator in the world, we were doing great. We We arrived to San Francisco, we moved from Argentina to San Francisco to be part of that program. When we just were starting, we discovered that our finger that we were working with, for a few months, it produce mycotoxins, so we couldn't use it anymore. Because we are targeting the food industry. So that was a huge problem. For us. It was a crisis a we were in San Francisco and New City, with all the investors looking at us. So that was a problem, a huge problem. But we managed to find a way to, to find another strain to keep working to get the knowledge that we will develop for the strain and leverage it for the new one. And we overcome that problem. And we, we are having problems every week, in not that big, but we have problems that were weak that we need to overcome. And really, resilience is what's most important in this case.

Alex 6:38
And what a what a more perfect organism to partner with and to look as a teacher as, as an organism that can survive in space, or was found spores were found, you know, for 60 million years underneath the ocean and still viable or can you know, eat radioactive isotopes in in Chernobyl or survive in Antartica? I mean, fungi are one of the most resilient organisms on the planet, and they just seem to bounce back from anything that you can throw on them, including, you know, oil, they'll eat, eat up oil, eat up oil and, and other things. So what a great organism to partner with and just kind of view as a teacher for that resilience. And I think that's, you know, what, what's more fitting to work with?

Ricky 7:33
Yeah, actually, we, Mauricio, show me all the potential of filamentous fangire, all the potential to create bio factories using them, and bioremediation potential, New Earth, neurological potential to fungi are great. And we believe that they are the future of biotechnology by your products. And that's why we are working with them, we could work with bacteria, or yeast that is more common. But we know that filamentous fungi have a lot of potential to be better in terms of producing that better yield much more scalable, so solve bigger problems, even solving world hunger. So there is a lot of things that we can do with filamentous, fungi, fungi in general. And that's why we are really excited about what we are doing.

Lera 8:30
Yeah, you've definitely been inoculated. And that can that's expressed on the shirt that you chose to wear for this videocast. So before we dive into the science and what exactly you're up to, can we talk about the why, why are you making these non synthetic dyes, we know this is bad. there's been plenty of reports on the ill effects on children and pretty much everyone but specifically with children and developing fetuses and whatnot.

Ricky 9:00
When in memory. So like I said before, he has this idea, but I knew about the problem with petroleum based dyes. Because when I was a kid, like you said, I had skin rashes all over my chest. And I didn't know why. When I stopped consuming. I changed my diet and I stopped consuming petroleum based ice ingredients in general. I didn't have that anymore. Now it's not a problem for me, but I know that a lot of kids still have crawl problems when they grow up. And of course it's not healthy to consume petroleum based ingredients. But the thing is that they are everywhere. They are in junk food like candy so the US snacks but they are also unhealthy food like pickles, for example, jelly in Yeah. Many many case uses. They're in also healthy food vegan bacon too. So they already Because the pH and thermostability, the performance in general of petroleum based dyes is perfect. And also they are extremely cheap. That's why they are widely used also, because we like to consume food that is appealing to our eyes. And that's why companies are using them to sell more, of course. And there are many problems, their problems really related to sustainability. But that's not the main issue. In our case. That's we think that's a really big problem. But it's not the worst problem. The health concerns are the worst problem. I had allergies. It wasn't that bad. But there are some kids with ADHD, hyperactivity, and even they are related to. So they are not good. And people don't don't want to consume that anymore. So they are requesting companies to change their ingredients. And there are companies that are trying to switch from petroleum based dyes to natural what natural ones like Kellogg's, Nestle mondelez, they all claim that they were going to switch from petroleum based dyes to natural ones. I think all of them couldn't achieve that promise yet. Because there are problems related to to natural ones. And also related to regulations. For example, California's oehha is reviewing the use of petroleum based dyes, actually, they already said that the amount of petroleum based dyes that kids are eating is not safe, and they need to lower it. So that's the first the first step. prolly in the future, we are not going to use petroleum based dyes anymore. We are the market for plant based ones and insect based ones that are the ones that are currently use is growing a lot. So related to the natural ones. Really quick, the insect based ones come from insects that are called cochineal die, they grow in Mexico, Peru, and some parts of Argentina too. You need to grow cactus plants, make the insect rubber using the cactus black cactus plants, then select a female and smash them and extract the color. So it's a horrible process is not really scalable. If they are really expensive. It's not beyond kosher or halau, that's a problem to the performance is not great either. And the replacement for for that one for that red color, it would be a bit rude, but it comes from traditional agriculture. So it's not really sustainable either. It's better, of course. But there is a long supply chain, you need to use a lot of water, land pesticides. And the performance is not great either on the expensive. So we saw a gap there in the market, where we could create better natural dyes to to help this transition from petroleum based dyes to natural ones in a faster way, in a more sustainable way, and also in a cost effective way. And that's why we started Michroma

Lera 13:32
I think people really take for granted how colorful Our world is. These days, I took a lot of art history in college. And it was fascinating to hear about the struggles with print makers back in the day and trying to find a pigment to make blue or purple. And just the stories that came out of this, like the extent that people went through just to get some blue pigment, how much it cost and like the espionage and the spying and like all of the crazy crime that came with other countries trying to obtain this information, you know, whoever had had founded the pigment first. So I understand why we switch to a petroleum based pigmentation. It's like you said it's super cheap, probably really easy to make stable and you can get every color that the human eye can possibly process and and perceive so I understand it in a way but now that we have the science and the responsibility to notice that these things are actually harmful to us. It's time for the third era of pigmentation and I think fungi are very promising. We had a whole podcast on fungal dyes, which Alyssa Allen she's an amazing DIY fungal dye person and basically she forages for all different types of mushrooms and dyes wool and other organic fibres with mushrooms. A lot of times you have to use ammonia. So this is of course, not something translatable into the food industry. But nonetheless, it really did give an impressive scope on the world of pigmentation that mushrooms in particular had to offer. But you are working with the mycelium. You're working with the metabolites. Right? And what colors can you currently create at Michroma.

Ricky 15:27
Right now we are focused on producing red, because red is one of the most use actually is the most used color in the food and cosmetic industry. And that's where we are targeting those two markets. Red is also related to, to a lot of problems, the petroleum based bread is related to a lot of problems related to health concerns. So that's why we started with red. But we can also produce orange and on yellow right now. And our idea is not just to produce these three colors that are 90% of the food dyes currently use. But you have a whole spectrum of colors, we know that fungi have a lot of colors, that they can produce a lot of metabolites. And actually, we know only about 5% of all fungi on Earth. That's an estimation. So we the potential that is related to producing other colors or other stable voters because that's the challenge, right? It's huge. And not only molecules that are cooler, but also flavors, fragrances, and all these ingredients that that's what we were doing at Michroma. We want to create a biotech platform to produce next generation natural ingredients. And not only colors, but in the future also flavors and fragrances using fangire. us by your factories.

Lera 16:57
And was this color the one Mauricio noticed first and then that that they would he would run with this particular pigment?

Ricky 17:05
Actually, no, it was a pinkish color. And that's an strain that we are not using because the yield wasn't great. And actually, we don't know if it was even safe. But that was the starter of this idea that he had. hE hE savich tarean for more than 15 years now. And he always checks labels of products. He always checks for animal free products, right. But he also saw all the petroleum based ingredients that we were consuming. So he related his idea in the lab with what he was trying to buy a clean label product. And he thought at that time that it was a perfect combination, and that he could solve a problem with the solution that was out there. And that's when we when he decided to look for a partner for a business partner. And we met at my university one Saturday at 8am when I was in for what I was looking for biotech projects,

Alex 18:13
so can you walk our listeners through kind of that process of how this works? And how do you go out and search for for different dyes or other fungi that might increase the yield of the red or a different different shade of red? Is it kind of throwing the Dart at the dartboard and just kind of collecting as many fungi as possible testing if they produce it is do you, you know, is it grown in a big bioreactor and you just add different chemicals to it and see how it reacts? How does this process work without disclosing you know, any any proprietary information, of course,

Ricky 18:58
so we can, we have a wide selection of elements. In this collection, we select the ones that we think that are better suitable for our process. Right now, we are not working with all of them, even though we need a lot of research on them. We are working with one string and we are creating our own proprietary industrial strength with it. So we went up that we want make, what we want to do is make that strain for use all the colors in the future and produce it in a really really high yield. So we can replace the petroleum based dyes. We are using that string and we are brewing it in bioreactors. So similar to the production of beer, it's not like a pharmaceutical product but more like a beer. Basically, we are making the fungi produce the cooler and security to the media. So after downstream effects As a filtration, we we get a fungal biomass on a color media that we can dry, or we can concentrate depending on the use because for example, for cosmetics, it's better to have a dry powder. for food applications, maybe it's better to cover concentrated liquid. So it depends on what they they want the company that are going to use it needs.

Lera 20:29
Hey guys! if you love the show and want to continue getting tantalizing mushroom content such as this, please consider supporting us by going to mushroom revival calm and purchasing one of our amazing mushroom products.

Alex 20:43
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Lera 22:01
So you predict you'll be able to make multiple colors from one strain of fungi. Yes, and you get different colors based on the environmental conditions.

Ricky 22:12
Yeah, that's our moonship. That's our moonship we think we know that we can do it. Of course, it's going to take a lot of development. And now we are working on our strain to make it produce a really, really high yield of red. And that's where we are focusing to then bond the power of our platform to other colors,

Lera 22:34
the rainbow mycelium. I'm assuming you can't tell us the species. But if you can, we'd love to know.

Ricky 22:42
Well, it's a Penicillium strain. That's what I can say. And we are engineering it to make it our own strain industrial strain that can make all these products in a really sustainable and cost effective way.

Lera 22:59
And what reasons do you have for for you to believe that it can produce a blue and a purple and a green and other colors?

Ricky 23:08
Well, that's more we know that fungi can produce a lot. We can see that in nature. And we know that the synthetic pathways to do that. So according to science, it's possible. We still need to do a lot of development, of course, but we are sure that we can make it with enough funding that we need. Right now. We are a really small team. We are five in our company, we raise a pre seed round, and we are going to look for a seed round soon. So with all that capital from investors that trust us and trust in the power of fungi, we think that we are going to be able to do

Alex 23:53
we were doing some research on OFHEO, corta seps unilateralis, which is the typical, you know, quarter steps mushroom that a lot of people know when you know they've watched planet earth or other BBC nature documentaries, and it's you know, grows off ants it pops out of their head you see a lot of those cool time lapses and if you haven't if you don't know what I'm talking about definitely YouTube quarter seps BBC Planet Earth and it'll pop up and you can see this really awesome clip. So there's this die It's a read not though Queen own die that that the opiate corcept senescence are a few quadriceps unilateralist produces and I can't remember actually what it was used for if it if it's a antibiotic at that the the fungi produces to fight the insects and and make it you know a clean habitat. A habitat for colonization, I could be wrong, but they have been using this this dye for food, cosmetics, pharmaceutical practices. And they actually, one of the coolest things that I saw was using it for anti tuberculosis testing and in secondary TB patients and proving symptoms enhancing immunity when combined with with chemo drugs, is this something that I know you? You've said you're focusing on food, and cosmetics is pharmaceutical application in in your runway at all?

Ricky 25:43
Well, yes, we think our ingredients could feed many trees, especially what we are trying to focus is in everything that we put in our bodies, because for example, we see a huge problems related to coloring use in textiles, their production processes, horrible, the conditions of the production is it's terrible. But we see a more arson problem in in what we eat, and what we put in our bodies. So that's why we are trying to focus on the food industry, cosmetic and pharma. us as a Korean ingredient, we know that our our our dyes also have antioxidant properties. So that's that's also really good. And a lot of studies claim that being mains that are really similar to ours have different different activity related to blood pressure, it helps lower the blood pressure, anti inflammatory activity, antiviral activity, and even anti tumor activity. But we are going to focus more on the on solving this problem that we can claim that we can solve. And we could use also our colorants as nutraceuticals. But right now we are trying to focus on solving this problem that is really clear.

Lera 27:11
And what exactly is making the red pigment? Is this an enzyme or some other compound hormone like? Do you know what it is actually, it's

Ricky 27:23
a secondary metal emit secondary metabolic. Enzymes are a primary primary metabolite, and metabolite and they naturally come for the use these pigments, what we are doing is helping them to produce even more and try to give them the optimised conditions inside the bioreactors. So the yield is really good. They usually use these pigments as UV protection. For example,

Alex 27:52
what color do you think is the hardest to produce? I heard blue is the rarest color from from nature. Is that true? Is that kind of your top color that that you want to get to someday?

Ricky 28:07
Yeah, that's true. Blue is really hard. Because in nature, there are many blues. The ones that are Bible mostly they have oxidation problems and also durability problems. So bH and thermal stability. So that's, that's a really tricky color that the industry is looking for. So that's something that we are going to target as we we improve the scalability of our process. We know that it works in an industrial scale. But yes, we are in the loop for a really good blue color. And we already did a lot of research of different ways of reaching that stable and good performing blue dye.

Lera 28:55
So have you heard of the blue stain fungi? I think it has a couple other names to the green cup fungus even though it looks very blue to me. I believe the Latin name is chloro cure Bora

Ricky 29:10
Taurasi warrior. Yeah,

Lera 29:11
yeah. So this grew everywhere in Western Mass. And when we lived there, I we found some mushrooms which are rare. Usually you just see the stains blue wood. And you don't hardly ever see fruiting mushrooms, especially if they're fresh. And we saw these and we took them back to the lab and put them on Petri. I was just like, let's I just want to see what happens like what if it does create a metabolite that's blue or if it has something to do with the chemistry of the word and the cellulose and the lignin that prompts this color the stain. And sure enough, this petri plate had the normal white fluffy mycelium and after maybe a week or two had all these little beads of dark dark blue metabolites. It looked almost black. It was such a satisfying beautiful color.

Alex 29:59
We found this On our first date, and we went mushroom hunting on our first date, and it was we're probably like a minute down the path. And I was like, so she just moved from Kansas to to Massachusetts. And I was like, so what mushrooms Do you want to find? Like, what are you hoping to find today? And she was like, I want to find blue stain fungi. I was like, Well, you know, it's a little rare. I don't know, if we're gonna find it to

Lera 30:26
Find the rainbow. I wanted to find one mushroom for every color. And we did.

Alex 30:31
We did. Yeah, she has this this skill. I don't know what it is. But she'll, she'll say, I want to find this mushroom. 30 seconds later, we find the mushroom. But we're right after she said that, probably 10 seconds later, we get to a fork in the path. And so I'm like, okay, you know, I come from a lot of outdoor background. And so usually I'll mark path like with a stick or something to know when we're walking back. Oh, he went that way. So I pick up a stick. And the first stick I pick up was covered in this blue stain with the fruiting bodies with the mushrooms coming out of it. And it was the funniest thing was like 10 seconds after she said, Oh, I want to find this blue stain. fungi. But if we find any more, we'll definitely send it to Argentina. Unless you have it in abundance over there. Please let me know.

Lera 31:26

Ricky 31:28
Are you looking for a job?

Lera 31:30
I won't rule that out. Um, but yeah, have you considered this this fungus? Or have you worked with it?

Ricky 31:37
Yeah, that's one of the species that we are considering. We need to go through a process where we prove that is that is safe. For us, it's very important, since we are targeting the food industry, for us is very, very important to know that they are safe that they don't produce mycotoxins or antibiotics, antibiotics, or anything that could harm us. So that's very important for us. And the other part is also ph thermostability. stability, oxidation. So those are things that we need to consider when looking for a fun guy, and also that they grow in his submerged fermentation. So there are a lot of steps when selecting a finger. So we are really, really begin because we need to make it goes competitive. Basically, we need to solve a problem in the industry. But yes, that's one of the fungi that we are considering for the blue collar to say

Alex 32:38
you check all the boxes, it has, you know, it can be grown in a bioreactor. It doesn't produce mycotoxins it grows at the right pH or withstand certain pH is of the food that you're putting in all these different boxes are checked. Once you produce it, what are the boxes that you have to check in order to dye a food? Does it have to bind to like carbs? Or like what what was the dyeing process of the food? Is it similar as like a dying a wool or something like that? Because I know, we were talking with fabric dyeing, and there's a lot of fabrics that you just can't dye with mushroom dyes, or it doesn't do as well. So are there some foods or drinks that, you know, good luck? You're not gonna it's not gonna work with a with a fungal dye? Or can you manipulate the dye in a certain way to have it bind? And you know, you brought up it's all dependent on your customer of what they're going to use it if it's a powder, if it's a liquid, so kind of take us through those steps of how do you make sure it binds with whatever their product if it's a lipstick or a, you know, a granola bar or whatever? How do you make sure it binds?

Ricky 34:04
Yeah, that's a really good question. Actually, for example, carotenoids, a lot of problems when, so what related to scalability. So when using it, and at an industrial scale, you have a lot of problems. And that's something that we are trying to change with our dice. They have really good water solubility, that it's also not really important characteristics for the food industry. And the other two characteristics that are most important for for the food industry is pH and thermal stability. So food is very diverse from pH three to eight, and sometimes 10. And our colorants are stable from two to 10. So they are stable all although we're all pH so that's why we got a lot of interest from Companies, we've been talking with more than 50 of the top companies related to food, cosmetics and pharma, and even some more word applications like ink, and also textiles, of course. But yes BHS stability is really important. And also thermal stability, our dice when compared with insect based dyes and plant based dyes have better pH and thermal stability than all the rest of the natural ones use. Nowadays,

Lera 35:37
fungal food dyes aren't new, I was doing some research after knowing or getting to know your startup and an Asia they've been using monascus species which I'm not sure if this is the one that you initially started off with, and then realize that produced mycotoxins because that was a big thing. And the research I was doing is the monascus is great, it produces a really productive, deep red pigment. And you can actually get red, pink, yellow, orange, a lot of those colors, but it produces citrinin. I think that was the name of the mycotoxin. And it has terrible effects. But they successfully according to one paper that I read mute, they did some mutagenesis on a few strains, and one of them lost the gene to create the citrinin. And they actually increase the yield of the dye. So I'm just curious if you have anything to say about that, and what you know about the monascus species if you did originally try to work with this one, or if you ever plan to, um,

Ricky 36:45
yeah, actually, that's a huge problem. Because these mycotoxins can kill you. So it's a huge problem. It's it's used, it's used to produce the red yeast rice widely in Asia. And it's also used in the States, for example, as a nutraceutical itself, it's sold us nutraceuticals, do we lower the cholesterol or cholesterol? But yes, the burden is huge. And that's why it's not widely used. It's not widely using in the US, it's not widely used in Europe, because of the production of these mycotoxin for us is extremely important, the safety of our currents because we can't test a new fungi with people and do something wrong. Because if we do that, that we are setting, not only a problem for the company, but for all fungi for all new natural dyes. So it would be against our mission, basically. So we really care about safety. And that's why we only select a finger that can produce mycotoxins.

Alex 38:04
Have you done trials with myco? Inc?

Ricky 38:08
Ah, no, no, we haven't. But we know that they they have a really good power on the coloring power eight,

Alex 38:17
I can't wait until I I print off some documents with myco ink, it's gonna be great.

Ricky 38:25
It would be amazing. Actually, the biggest company producing ink on earth approaches because they will not replace their their ink. They're petroleum based ink with with natural dyes. So they we know that they are looking for more sustainable solutions. The problem is they are not there yet. And that's what we are trying to provide with Michroma starting with was most important for us that is food and what we put in our bodies to then go to other industries like textile. Think of printers, for example.

Alex 39:05
What would you say is kind of your barriers of entry to pay to be the provider for all these industries. I mean, it's it's huge, and I'm sure that the petroleum based inks, they can make unbelievably cheap. And so, you know, it's finding the right strain, I'm guessing with the right production and without mycotoxins, and then the infrastructure and funding. Is there anything else that you know, is a big barrier of entry that is preventing you from replacing all our nasty dies on planet Earth.

Ricky 39:44
Yeah, another bhari entry is regulations. The dice that we are based in are really good in terms of pH, thermal stability and everything because they are novel molecules and the problem related with novel modeling Some novel ways of producing food and ingredients is that they are not regulated yet. So we need to go through an FDA process that can take in their base cases and ru a year. So it's a long process. And it takes also a lot of money to get through that process. But we think that we need to create new materials to solve the problems that we can solve right now. So that's something that we need, we will need to overcome. And we already did a lot of testing regarding the safety of our dyes, we know that they don't produce mycotoxins we tested for genotoxicity. Within if we even consume our dye, so I didn't die yet. And that's good.

Lera 40:51
Yeah, I respect that consuming the product that you make, a lot of big business won't use the products that they make. So you are also marketing your bio mass correct? And is this also for dye? Or are you using it for something else?

Ricky 41:09
Will myco protein in general is really interesting filamentous fungi in the past the filamentous structure that resembles meat, so the myco protein space is growing a lot as an alternate the meat in the plant base, a scenario that is booming right now. So besides the filamentous structure, they have cool advantages, like they have a mommy flavor that can cover and enhance some flavors. And you can use less salt, for example. And those are characteristics are all filamentous, fangire, bioness, let's say of all mycoprotein. But our myco protein is also polar, because they're really, really the umbrella. And it's perfect for alternative alternative meat replacements. And also this color, like the color that we are producing it, it's an antioxidant. And it could also replace some of the other ingredients that are used to improve shelf life. So that's something that we are testing. Right now we are at the lab scale with our currents and also with our bio mass. But we are rate testing with companies. And hopefully soon we will have a lot of products with alternative protein from fungi, a lot of colorants from fungi. And yeah, and we can buy those products in the shelf.

Alex 42:44
So talking about oxidation. We just figured out and I say we as as humans just figured out why psilocybin or magic mushrooms brews blue and what's really going on. And some researchers found that these compounds are most of them are quede sosyal oligomers. And they're according to this article that I read, not too unlike the Indigo dye used to dye blue jeans. And you know, another there's actually a few different mushrooms that bruise blue when you cut it or when you you touch it Some believe species bruise this really awesome blue, you cut it in half, and then it just changes blue right before your eyes. really gorgeous, really awesome. I'm sure you know, there are some regulatory issues in Argentina in terms of growing psilocybin and improving it, but I'm sure it may be a belief it's mycorrhizal. So it might be a little harder. Maybe you could set up an operation in Brazil, or if you know, some of those regulations for psilocybin are a little more lenient, but um, have you Have you thought of using either psilocybin containing mushrooms or boletus species for blue?

Ricky 44:14
We haven't yet because of that kind of issues. regulations are a really strong barrier of entry. We investors and companies worry a little bit they know that they can approve our dies and broadleaf is going to happen if we get the right resources and the right trials. But they are worried about it. If we add another layer of of problems. I think we are not there yet. But in the future. After we get approved our first fungal dies. Not only regulations are going to be a little bit easier, but also perception of the community. is going to help. So maybe in the future, but no, now,

Lera 45:05
I can't imagine dealing with regulations with the FDA, especially when you're getting involved with international projects. So thank you for being a trooper and persevering through all of that bureaucratic BS. But I understand it, and I think the institutions that enforce it, because then we have safe food.

Ricky 45:28
Yeah, of course, it's, it's really important they show that they do, we are on the same side that they are, we want to provide better natural ingredients. for food and medics, we need to go through those steps to be sure that we are going to put in our food safety. So we understand that theirselves.

Lera 45:51
But this is also the same institution that's allowing blue five and yellow 40 in red, whatever number, so, definitely room for improvement,

Ricky 46:01
that is going to change. If we stop consuming petroleum based dyes, they are going to be over companies that are trained to switch. But if we decide we are not going to buy those products anymore, they are going to switch faster, right? Because they want to produce money that that's that's what they're trying to do. So if people don't buy their, their products that have petroleum based ingredients, they are not going to make money. So they are going to change the way that they are producing. We are going we are seeing that in a lot of industries, for example, the vegan community is booming. Meat companies are trying to produce cultured meat, too, to satisfy this, this demand. So everything is going to change in the next few years. And for sure everything is going to change not only related to tech, but also to life sciences, to where we are,

Alex 47:06
and what an exciting time in the world. And I think to have access to the Internet, and just, you know, in countries where it's not as regulated, as you know, other countries and we have access, free access to an incredible amount of information at our fingertips at all times. And so that is that power is unbelievable. And it just supercharges innovation supercharges r&d and pushing this technology to make the world a better place and define better solutions for you know, things that people just take for granted or there is no other way. And that that barrier of entry has really taken a few notches down and so there's so many people that listen to our show and tune in from all around the globe. And from all different backgrounds and people just getting into the field or maybe they work at a mushroom farm maybe they're they're looking to start their own business and and seeing mushrooms are booming. They want to quit their job maybe they're working in nine to five at some, you know cubicle workplace and they want to work with mushrooms and and so what advice do you have for our listeners who maybe already have their own mushroom business are working at a mushroom business, they want to start their own that want to pursue mycology to help world problems such as this.

Ricky 48:53
Well. Here you have an example I come from the business side, and I don't have too much experience. I'm 24 years 25 years old. So everyone can I will encourage everyone that has an idea. They want to be entrepreneurs and especially in the biotech space in the mycology space to go forward and try to to to make the your idea a reality because you can do it. There is a lot of funding nowadays to do that, especially in the US. And that's why we went to the US. So if you if you're from the US, you're a little bit closer. This this base is booming. biotech is booming. What happened with software hardware a few years ago. Now it's happening with life sciences and also mycology. Actually, I was hearing to a venture capitalist a few months ago that he said that the next year is going to be the year of fungus So, watch out because some cool things can happen. And with the latest development on technology related to science, like CRISPR, or how much he's lowering the cost of sequencing, for example, every day open, it opens up a new world of possibilities to make it a lot of things, a lot of things with fun guy. And that's what we are trying to do at Michroma. And we see a huge space that is growing a lot. And there are a lot of companies that are trying to be in that space to so many problems on related to too many problems of the world. Like I said before world hunger, we could produce myco protein all over the world. We can do bioremediation with fun guy, we can solve mind problems with fun guy. There are a lot of things to do. And also, we only know about 5% of all fungi. So let's go for this go to look for for new fungi that rely solutions, like you guys did with that blue stick. We can find in there. We're

Lera 51:19
Yeah, we couldn't agree more. And we learn this every time we have a new guest just how powerful the potentials are. And the surprising nooks and crannies of the world where fungi show up and really shine. The latest podcast that we just published was all about this fungus that produced a metabolite that blocks the bitter receptors on your tongue. And that was revolutionary for the whole sugar epidemic and how we can use this fungus grown in a bioreactor harvest these little compounds and completely change the way people eat our health. That's just one sliver of what they are currently doing now and what they will do. Ricky, I'm so excited to watch Michroma grow. Where can people follow your work? I know you have a website, I believe you also have an Instagram.

Ricky 52:16
Yeah, well, thank you very much. We have a website that is And there you can find all our social network, we use Instagram, we use LinkedIn, we use Twitter. So a Facebook too. We use LinkedIn more, but feel free to follow us on on every channel. And also, if you're looking to be an entrepreneur, if you're looking into my mycology, and you need some help, feel free to reach out to me, I'm not that hard to find. So happy to help too.

Alex 52:56
And you said you're about to open up another round. Is that right?

Ricky 53:00
Yes, we need some capital to scale up production to start going through the regulatory process that we need. And yes, we are going to raise around two to $3 million to to keep us going to grow our team to do more developments and continue creating a new way of producing ingredients in a more sustainable, cost effective way.

Alex 53:25
So excited.

Lera 53:26
Yeah, it's amazing.

Alex 53:28
We have one final question that we ask all of our guests on our show. And this question is, if mushrooms had the microphone, he could say one thing to the whole human race. What would they say?

Ricky 53:45
Well, that that's a really, really good question. I think that they would try to create awareness about they shop that they are doing for us. They they are the foundation of Earth. they they they help us a lot. They are doing a lot of things for us. And people sometimes they think oh fungi, oh molds, they are disgusting, or they are toxic. And it's not like that. So I think they would create awareness about all the things that they are doing for us, and all the things that they can do in the future. And we can work with them to help create a better war.

Lera 54:31

Alex 54:32
Thank you for coming on. Thank you for everyone for tuning in and tuning in to another episode. Hit that subscribe button, hit that like and reach out to us we are we'd love to hear from everyone. And so if you have any suggestions for future topics that we should dive into or guests that we should bring on our show, please reach out to us. We love you so much wherever you're tuning in from We can do without you. And if you have any other if you just want to say hi, reach out, we are here and head over to our website at mushroom We have a whole new line of products out we have a new logo new new packaging new products. So check that out if you haven't already. And if you're listening to this and you're not watching, head over to YouTube because you can see a video of this podcast. As always, much love. May the spores be with you

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