Navigation Links
Preserving a world favorite flavour

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.

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.


Contact: Emma Rayner
University of Nottingham

Related biology news :

1. Alpine rivers hold important clues for preserving biodiversity and coping with climate change
2. Preserving sperm vital to saving snot otter salamanders
3. BIO-key(R) International To Exhibit at Oracle OpenWorld
4. World leaders in infectious diseases convene to discuss emerging global viruses
5. Researchers document worlds mammals in crisis
6. Complete Genomics launches, becomes worlds first large-scale human genome sequencing company
7. Europe rallies behind nanotechnology to wean world from fossil fuels
8. Smithsonian perspective: Biodiversity in a warmer world
9. Take advantage of reduced pre-registration rates for the IOF World Congress on Osteoporosis
10. World Food Day brings attention to food security around the globe
11. Fitness in a changing world
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/7/2016)... , June 7, 2016  Syngrafii Inc. and ... business relationship that includes integrating Syngrafii,s patented LongPen™ ... project. This collaboration will result in greater convenience ... credit union, while maintaining existing document workflow and ... ...
(Date:6/2/2016)... , June 2, 2016 ... Manned Platforms, Unmanned Systems, Physical Infrastructure, Support & Other ... provider visiongain offers comprehensive analysis of the ... this market will generate revenues of $17.98 billion in ... acquired DVTEL Inc, a leader in software and hardware ...
(Date:5/16/2016)... 16, 2016   EyeLock LLC , a market ... opening of an IoT Center of Excellence in ... the development of embedded iris biometric applications. ... convenience and security with unmatched biometric accuracy, making it ... from DNA. EyeLock,s platform uses video technology to deliver ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... ... While the majority of commercial spectrophotometers and fluorometers use the z-dimension of 8.5 ... end machines that use the more unconventional z-dimension of 20mm. Z-dimension or ... the cuvette holder. , FireflySci has developed several Agilent flow cell product lines ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... UAS ... the launch of their brand, UP4™ Probiotics, into Target stores nationwide. The company, ... proud to add Target to its list of well-respected retailers. This list includes ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016 A person commits a crime, and the ... track the criminal down. An outbreak of foodborne ... Administration (FDA) uses DNA evidence to track down the bacteria ... far-fetched? It,s not. The FDA has increasingly used a complex, ... foodborne illnesses. Put as simply as possible, whole genome sequencing ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... MONICA, Calif. , June 23, 2016  The Prostate Cancer Foundation ... pioneer increasingly precise treatments and faster cures for prostate cancer. Members of the ... institutions across 15 countries. Read More About the Class ... ... ...
Breaking Biology Technology: