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From the oxide of roses to Chanel N

Bioaroma Laboratory of Unicamp gains a market

The first Bioaroma laboratory of the country, inaugurated in 1998, at the Food Engineering School of Unicamp, was totally renovated and expanded with resources from FAPESP's Infrastructure Program. “From a simple 'room' where the initial research was carried out, came forth a laboratory with state of the art installations and equipment, which is today a reference point in Brazil and abroad in the production of natural aromas beginning with the transformation of micro organisms', says Gláucia Maria Pastore, Head of the Bioaromas and Carotenoids Laboratory.

The new installations will enable the development of research such as that of obtaining the oxide of roses, a base for adding aromas to food and cosmetics, such as the perfume Chanel No 5, immortalized by Marilyn Monroe. Extracted from nature only from roses grown in Bulgaria and in very small quantities, it is purchased at the price of gold on the international market. “It is a product so valuable that German companies are looking throughout the world for those who hold the key to the technology of its production', explains Pastore.

The oxide of roses is obtained beginning with samples of the leaves and native fruit, extracted from the soil and the waters of the rivers in the state of Alagoas and in the region of the São Francisco river. The samples are incubated in a liquid medium and the micro organisms isolated are inoculated in orange peelings, a by-product generally discarded in quantity in Brazil and which contains the compound limonin. The result is the extremely rare oxide of roses.

The laboratory is also producing the aromas of cheeses, obtained with fungi in milk, used in biscuits, ready-made rice and other food products of interest to Brazilian companies. Also in the area of foodstuffs, they are carrying out tests on bacteria with antibiotic functions in an attempt to solve problems such as that of the storage of hot dogs in domestic refrigerators.

Another line of research, the characterization of lycopene, is being developed by the Guava Producers Association. Lycopene has the function of being anti-carcinogenic and anti-free radicals, and is found in guava in quantity and quality much more significantly than in the tomato.

Cooperation

The standard of quality acquired by the Bioaromas and Carotenoids Laboratory made it possible for the establishing of a line of cooperation with the University of Hanover in Germany, which has a similar laboratory, for an interchange program of students and professors. The laboratory also has a partnership with the University of Milan in Italy, and with the Ohio State University in the United States.

Within the group of laboratory researchers, there is Dr. Délia Rodriguez Amaya, considered to be the greatest specialist in the world on carotenoids. Her researches with yellow pigments from fruits and vegetables can count upon US$ 1 million from the National Council of Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq). Results have already been published abroad, brought up at international seminars and have generated collaboration agreements with various organizations and international universities.

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