Mold is on the menu: Aspergillus oryzae, to be precise

A fungal cuisine superstar may soon be putting a new, meat-free patty on the menu. Aspergillus oryzae, or koji mold to its friends, is already a key ingredient in miso, soy and sake. Now, according to  the New York Post, it's being used to grow a perfect patty.

Chef turned bio-engineer, Vau Hill-Maini, working with a team of researchers, used CRISP-R gene editing tech to coax the fungus into producing ergothioneine, an antioxidant, and a molecule called heme. A synthetic version of heme is already used to make Impossible Burgers more meat-like.

Now, the formerly white fungus is red and can be dried, ground and formed into cow-friendly burgers. 

Organisms like koji mold have been involved in the food preparation process "for centuries," said UC Berkeley professor Jay Keasling, a senior scientist at Berkeley Lab.

"By unlocking koji mold through the development of these tools, we are unlocking the potential of a huge new group of hosts that we can use to make foods, valuable chemicals, energy-dense biofuels and medicines," he said. "It's a thrilling new avenue for biomanufacturing."

Previously: Company that makes dog food from fungi gets $11 million in venture capital funding