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  1. #1
    ECaruthers's Avatar
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    Default Do these count as natural materials?

    It appears that we could get bacteria to make some of our aroma chemicals for us, maybe even quite complex ones. Here's how Reshma Shetty describes the process. Maybe a natural perfumer could ask her to provide the smell of oakmoss without the IFRA restrictions.

    [F]or anybody who works in a lab, who works with E. coli, when you grow cultures of the stuff, it just smells really bad. It smells really stinky, basically. And so our thought was, "Hey, why don't we reengineer the smell of E. coli? It'll make the lab smell minty fresh, and it's also a fun project that gets people, who maybe aren't normally excited about biology, interested in it because it's a very tangible thing. I can smell the change I made to this bacteria."

    ...

    So the process was, you basically take a gene, we took a gene from the petunia plant, which normally provides an odor to the flower, and you place that gene into the E. coli cell. And by supplying the cell with an appropriate precursor, you make this minty smell as a result. So it's fairly straightforward.

    Here's a long interview.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Do these count as natural materials?

    Good thing there aren't diseases and such to cure and we can spend our time making e. coli smell minty. :-\

    Otherwise, kinda interesting.

  3. #3
    bluesoul's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do these count as natural materials?

    Quote Originally Posted by sofresh View Post
    Good thing there aren't diseases and such to cure and we can spend our time making e. coli smell minty. :-\

    Otherwise, kinda interesting.
    It sounds like it was an undergrad or entry-level project, bioengineering is still a pretty young field so they do some strange stuff like that to keep the students interested rather than rattle numbers off a chart or what have you.
    Last edited by bluesoul; 4th December 2009 at 01:55 PM.
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  4. #4

    Default Re: Do these count as natural materials?

    Bacteria have been used for quite some time to make aroma chemicals. I used to work for a company that made fragrances and flavours and I can remember that, nearly 20 years ago, the flavour lab was using bacterai to create ketones for use in cheese flavours. Entirely natural, although of limited use.
    Last edited by David Ruskin; 4th December 2009 at 02:41 PM.

  5. #5
    ECaruthers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do these count as natural materials?

    Bacteria are used to make insulin. I think cheap manufacture of a wide range of drugs is a major goal of biotechnology.
    Last edited by ECaruthers; 4th December 2009 at 03:33 PM.

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