A New Cultured Rose Oil from Yeast

Overview

Rose oil is highly prized in the fragrance industry for its deep and delicate complexity. Different species of flowers grown in different regions and harvested at different times all have unique scents. Could yeast be engineered to produce custom cultured rose “varietals”?

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From essential oils to cultured ingredients, our partner Robertet has been a leader in innovative natural fragrance for over 150 years. Their unique knowledge of nature comes from generations of understanding, learning, and sharing. Today, advances in biological science are enabling a new creative evolution, creating unique and sustainable cultured fragrances.

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The Biology

The smell of a rose is made up of hundreds of compounds, each produced by enzymes functioning in the rose petals’ cells. These enzymes are encoded in DNA in the rose genome. Working with Robertet’s perfumers, our organism designers identified the key compounds responsible for the scent of rose oil and then identified the DNA sequences of the enzymes that produce those compounds.

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The design

By building many different prototype versions of the scent producing genes in the foundry, we can tune the production of different compounds and come up with never before smelled versions of rose, made by yeast.

The cultured rose is still under development. In the meantime you can read more about the project on Buzzfeed, New Scientist, or Gizmodo.