Servicio de Información Comunitario sobre Investigación y Desarrollo - CORDIS

Biological transformation of agricultural residues for the production of high added value flavours

Methods have been developed which enable vanillin (the source of the most widely used food flavour, vanilla) of natural origin to be produced from agricultural waste. The basic process combines enzyme degradation of plant cell walls with fungal fermentations to isolate ferulic acid and ferment this to vanillin. The work included examination of various wastes such as beet pulp, and brans of cereals (maize, wheat), determination of the structure of cell wall components carrying ferulic acid residues, identification of enzymes and conditions for release of ferulic acid, concentration of the product and then development of several processes to obtain good yields of the required product.

New enzymes have been identified which liberate ferulic acid from hemicelluloses while adequate preparations have been selected for the production of other precursors (arabinose, xylose, rhamnose). The position of ferulic acid on plant cell wall polysaccharides from cereal and beet have been identified. Although, attempts to produce furanone and pyranone derivatives were disappointing the production of natural vanillin was very successful. Improved strains of micro-organisms were obtained and new strategies for the production of vanillin have been elucidated. At the beginning of the project, the maximum production of vanillin from synthetic ferulic acid was 60 mg/l. By the end of the project this had been raised to around 1 g/l.

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