Good Morning readers! Welcome to our first publication in our new capsule "Gastro Science." This segment published at least twice a month every Sunday highlighting articles published on scientific journals and food science curiosities. I hope you all enjoy! Not so long ago a report on the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America" (PNAS) published an article related to grape flavoring. You will be wondering why does grape flavoring have to do with anything scientific? Well, we have a surprise in store for you.
The flavor and essence of grape are generated by the molecule methyl anthranilate (MA). This compound is regularly employed for the manufacturing of candy, soda, perfumes, etc. It is also used to repel birds! It results that this molecule irritates the olfactory of birds and many agriculture use it to keep the crops healthy. This molecule is used in many aspects of our lives; however, generating is not an easy task.
MA is what gives the characteristic essence to grapes, extracting it from them is not as easy, and obtaining it in large quantities for manufacturing purposes. Currently, MA is manufactured using petrochemical processes reacting anthranilic acid, commonly used in perfumes to orange and Jazmin essence, which is not so eco-friendly. Another limitation in the manufacture of MA is that upon being synthesized and not isolated from a natural source, it characterized an "artificial flavoring" even though it is the same molecule.
Scientists are designing a more "natural" way to manufacture MA because it is not possible to extract directly from grapes. An option is to resort to Nature. Dr. Sang Yup Lee research lab from the Advance science and technology at Korea searched for an organism that produces this compound naturally. The group transposed the necessary enzymes for this process in the bacteria Escherichia coli. Now in the E. coli, Lee and its group modified the bacteria so it could use glucose to generate AM in the form of fermentation, just like beer!
The offers an alternative to petrochemical processes used for the production of methyl anthranilate. This group generated an option and sustainable way for the creation of this "natural" flavor. Thank you for reading the new capsule GastroScience from Ciencia en Arroz y Habichuelas, until next time!
Reference: PNAS May 28, 2019 116 (22) 10749-10756