Ferulic acid – plant base for high-quality aroma and flavor substances
Ferulic acid is the starting material for aroma substances such as vanillin and is mainly responsible for the taste of wheat beer, as the acid is converted into the typical wheat beer aroma during the fermentation process. It occurs in different forms in many different plants. Up to now, however, the production of this promising natural substance has been complex. It is extracted from production residues of corn, wheat or rice with the aid of solvents and heat.
New biotechnological production process
The aim of Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and the Leibniz Institute of Plant Biochemistry (IPB) was therefore to develop a biotechnological process for the cost-effective production of ferulic acid using microorganisms. Together, the partners succeeded in isolating the enzymes required for ferulic acid synthesis and expressing them in E. coli bacteria. This provides the first process for the biotechnological production of ferulic acid.
Optimization and scaling of the biotechnological production process for the manufacture of valuable downstream products
In the BMBF project FeruBase, ferulic acid serves as the starting substance for two different target products: health-promoting substances and flavorings. In addition, so-called bitter-masking substances are to be produced that can be added to food. Once the production process at MLU has been optimized to such an extent that the target products can be produced on a laboratory scale, process development to industrial scale will take place at Fraunhofer CBP.
Areas of application
The demand for the natural substance is already high. It forms the basis of biotechnological processes for the production of vanillin, which is already added to food, particularly in Asia, and is even used as a spice. Due to its antimicrobial properties, the plant substance is also in demand not only in medicine but also in the cosmetics industry.