Researchers Develop Method to Extract Protein from Tomato Leaves

Researchers have discovered a new way to extract high-value protein from otherwise inedible tomato leaves. The team of researchers at the Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands in a region known as the ‘Food Valley’ has developed a method for extracting Rubisco from the leaves of tomatoes and possibly other food crops.

The leaves of plants like tomatoes, potatoes, and cassava plants are inedible for direct consumption because of the toxins present. However, this method could cut down on food waste and turn it into an amazing source of plant-based protein.

“Our method filters out components smaller than the protein we want to extract, which includes many toxins,” said project leader Marieke Bruins, senior scientist in protein technology at Wageningen University & Research. “Our research shows that by making better use of what you already have, you can achieve significant gains in sustainability.”

The researchers are the first in the world to extract high-value Rubisco protein from tomato leaves, which is one of the major residue streams of greenhouse horticulture. The ability to extract Rubisco protein from plants could increase the availability of plant-based proteins, and the report claims that this could accelerate a transition to a more plant-based diet in some developed countries. The University is a leader in the protein transition, and its goal is to measurably decrease meat consumption.

Source: Wageningen University & Research/Youtube

Leaves are usually either reused and put into the soil as a fertilizer or are composted. However, both of these methods are low-value uses of the residues, and this new method could be another great way to get a good plant-based source of protein into human diets.

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