Friday, April 27, 2012

Perfume: fir to replace ambergris

An alternative to ambergris, prized whale intestinal concretion in the manufacture of luxury perfumes, would have been discovered by Canadian researchers.

Extract from a gene tree and introduced into yeast could soon replace ambergris, whales intestinal concretion used in the manufacture of luxury perfumes, according to the work of Canadian researchers. For centuries, this odorant and blackish, produced by sperm whales to protect their intestinal walls, is prized by perfumers as it prevents odors to dissipate.

Ambergris: a rare and expensive substance

Scientists have long sought an alternative to this substance industrial rare, expensive-about $ 10,000 per kilogram, considered a "factor in the whaling," says Joerg Bohlmann, a professor at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. According to the researcher, the molecule of cis-abienol, found in pine or sage leaves, could replace the ambergris in making perfumes because it also has the property to sustain the smell. But isolating the substance remained difficult and expensive.

A gene tree as an alternative

"We have now discovered a gene tree that is more efficient to produce these natural properties, thereby producing a cheaper and sustainable," said Bohlmann who published with his colleague Philipp Zerbe, his discovery in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

According to Bohlmann, the balsam fir gene introduced into yeast allow the large scale production of cis-abienol to replace ambergris in making perfumes. "If you ask people whether they prefer to wear perfume with vomit whale or tree resin, they are unlikely to choose the first option," joked the researcher. The University of British Columbia will allow a biotech company to commercialize this discovery, he said.

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