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Sustainable way to make a prized fragrance ingredient

Date:
December 19, 2012
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Large amounts of a substitute for one of the world's most treasured fragrance ingredients -- a substance that also has potential anti-cancer activity -- could be produced with a sustainable new technology, scientists are reporting. The advance enables cultures of bacteria to produce a substitute for natural ambergris, which sells for hundreds of dollars an ounce.

Bacteria could make a sustainable alternative to a prized natural ingredient in many perfumes.
Credit: adisa / Fotolia

Large amounts of a substitute for one of the world's most treasured fragrance ingredients -- a substance that also has potential anti-cancer activity -- could be produced with a sustainable new technology, scientists are reporting.

Published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, the advance enables cultures of bacteria to produce a substitute for natural ambergris, which sells for hundreds of dollars an ounce.

Laurent Daviet, Michel Schalk and colleagues explain that ambergris, a waxy substance excreted by sperm whales, has been prized as a fragrance ingredient for centuries. Ambergris has a pleasant sweet and earthy scent of its own, and it enhances other scents in high-end perfumes. With sperm whales an endangered species, and natural ambergris not used in perfumes in the U.S., perfume makers have turned to substitutes. One is made from sclareol, obtained from the Clary sage plant.

But the plant contains only small amounts of sclareol, and it is laborious to extract and purify. That's why the scientists looked for a better way of making large amounts of sclareol.

Their report describes isolating the genetic material (DNA) that produces the two Clary sage enzymes needed to make sclareol. They put the DNA into bacteria, which made large amounts of sclareol in bioreactors.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Michel Schalk, Laurence Pastore, Marco A. Mirata, Samretthy Khim, Marina Schouwey, Fabienne Deguerry, Virginia Pineda, Letizia Rocci, Laurent Daviet. Toward a Biosynthetic Route to Sclareol and Amber Odorants. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2012; 134 (46): 18900 DOI: 10.1021/ja307404u

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Sustainable way to make a prized fragrance ingredient." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121219133642.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2012, December 19). Sustainable way to make a prized fragrance ingredient. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121219133642.htm
American Chemical Society. "Sustainable way to make a prized fragrance ingredient." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121219133642.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

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