Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Vanilla: Preserving a world favorite flavor

Date:
April 18, 2011
Source:
University of Nottingham
Summary:
Vanilla is one of the world's best-loved flavors, and demand for it is increasing all the time. But now its future in the global food industry could be more secure, thanks to new research in Malaysia.

Vanilla bean pods.
Credit: iStockphoto

It's one of the world's two best-loved flavours, and demand for it is increasing all the time. But now its future in the global food industry could be more secure, thanks to research at The University of Nottingham's Malaysia campus.

Related Articles


Vanillin is a compound that comes from the vanilla bean, the 'fruit' of the flowering vanilla orchid. The orchid is a tropical, climbing vine originally cultivated by ancient Central American civilisations such as the Aztecs and is now grown worldwide with Madagascar, Indonesia and China by far the biggest producers.

The uniquely scented flavour of vanilla is second only to chocolate in popularity on the world's palate. It's also the second most expensive spice after saffron. But highly labour intensive cultivation methods and the plant's temperamental life cycle and propagation mean production on a global scale is struggling to keep up with the increasing demand for the product.

Scientists in the School of Biosciences on the University's Malaysia campus (UNMC) are working to create new and robust methods for the cloning of some economic species and some rare species of the orchid through tissue culture. The research is concentrating on the most common cultivated vanilla orchid, Vanilla planifolia, a perennial which produces the pods from which the natural vanillin is extracted.

Traditionally the vanilla orchid is propagated by stem cuttings but this method is labour intensive, time-consuming and not economical because taking cuttings can cause the retardation of the mother plant and a reduction in yield. Tissue culture or 'cloning' of a high quality parent plant from somatic (non-reproductive) cells offers a viable and simple method for the large scale commercial production of vanilla plants, but the technique has a current flaw which the scientists are hoping to overcome.

Problems arise when variations occur in the 'sub-clones' of one parental line, creating 'off-types' which are not of the same quality as the parent plant. It can be costly if a high percentage of the micropropagated sub-clones are off-types that have to be scrapped.

The scientists have been awarded a Fundamental Research grant (FRGS) from the Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education to use DNA marker systems to investigate how these mutations occur. Such marker systems have been widely used to detect the genetic similarities and differences in micro-propagated material in various plants and are simple, quick and cost-effective for routine application.

The research is being carried out by Dr Peter Alderson and Dr Chin Chiew Foan in the School of Biosciences, UNMC.

Dr Chin Chiew Foan said: "Our research will help to provide a tool for tracking abnormality of growth occurring in tissue culture and will also attempt to understand how such abnormalities can occur after a number of cycles of subculturing in tissue culture. Currently, we are developing a tool that will explore the internal RNA sequence region to detect sequence variations. Our initial results indicate that some variability of DNA fragments exists among the tissue culture samples under study. We are sending these DNA fragments for sequencing to reveal the level of mutations that has taken place."

The funding is for two years and will meet the costs of a Graduate Research Assistant as well as other research staff. To date, this is the first study investigating the possible occurrence of genetic variants of Vanilla planifolia through these types of regeneration protocols. Findings from the study will provide useful guidance on the suitability of tissue culture protocols for long term use for vanilla regeneration without risk of genetic instability.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Nottingham. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Nottingham. "Vanilla: Preserving a world favorite flavor." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 April 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110415083336.htm>.
University of Nottingham. (2011, April 18). Vanilla: Preserving a world favorite flavor. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110415083336.htm
University of Nottingham. "Vanilla: Preserving a world favorite flavor." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110415083336.htm (accessed November 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Baby Okapi Born at Houston Zoo

Raw: Baby Okapi Born at Houston Zoo

AP (Nov. 20, 2014) The Houston Zoo released video of a male baby okapi. Okapis, also known as the "forest giraffe", are native to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa. Video is mute from source. (Nov. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Newsy (Nov. 20, 2014) Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found the more complex your job is, the sharper your cognitive skills will likely be as you age. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mysterious Glow Worms Found in the Amazon

Mysterious Glow Worms Found in the Amazon

Buzz60 (Nov. 20, 2014) Wildlife photographer Jeff Cremer teamed up with entomologist Aaron Pomerantz and others to investigate a predatory glow worm found in the Amazon. Patrick Jones (@Patrick_E_Jones) explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins