Microbial Perfume

Rather than rely on plant-derived products, biotech companies are engineering bacteria and yeast to produce ingredients for fragrances.

By Edyta Zielinska | July 23, 2012

John Steven Fernandez" > Wikimedia commons, John Steven Fernandez

A number of biotech companies are looking to supplement plant-derived fragrances by engineering bacteria and yeast to produce commercial scents, potentially changing how the industry sources its products.

Plant sources can be unreliable: they are often susceptible to the whims of corrupt governments that can make it difficult to acquire the plants or to natural disasters that lead to supply shortages. Although the ability to produce scents in large quantities is still in development, a number of biotech companies including Allylix, Isobionics, and Evolva, are hoping to create plant-derived scents using engineered microbes.

So far, the only microbe-made fragrances available are the citrus molecules that smell like Valencia oranges and grapefruit peel, as well as vanilla. But companies plan to focus on more rare and difficult-to-acquire smells next. “If you have a rare compound that you can only isolate from a particular orchid that grows in the swamps of Florida, then only a handful of people in the world can have access to that,” Kalib Kersh, an analyst at consulting firm Lux Research, told Chemical & Engineering News. If such a fragrance could be engineered in the lab, it could be produced at much larger quantities without harvesting the rare plant. (Hat tip to Wired Science.)

Add a Comment

Avatar of: You



Sign In with your LabX Media Group Passport to leave a comment

Not a member? Register Now!

LabX Media Group Passport Logo


Avatar of: Omololu Fagunwa

Omololu Fagunwa

Posts: 1457

July 23, 2012

I imagine how far this technology (BIOTECH) will reach Africa in good proportion.

Avatar of: James Kohl

James Kohl

Posts: 53

July 24, 2012

This could lead to research on how plant odors alter our neuroendocrine and neuroimmune system function as indicated in:

Fukui, H., Toyoshima, K., & Komaki, R. (2011).
Psychological and neuroendocrinological effects of odor of saffron (Crocus sativus). Phytomedicine, 18(8-9), 726-730.

Avatar of: ICHHA PURAK


Posts: 9

July 24, 2012

Quite surprising and research work deserves appreciation.Hope  the bacteria used are friendly to human being and are not pathogenic

Avatar of: Mpmicrobial


Posts: 1

December 23, 2012

Dear sir/madam

Hereby i am Prathaban, Microbiologist. I have isolated an bacterial strain from soil which produces Fruitish Fragnance, Can please suggest me any methid or protocol to extract that fragnance from culture medium.

Thank you.

Popular Now

  1. How to Separate the Science From the (Jerk) Scientist
  2. RNA Moves a Memory From One Snail to Another
  3. Could a Dose of Sunshine Make You Smarter?
  4. Sweden Cancels Agreement With Elsevier Over Open Access