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Bacteria could be rich source for making terpenes

If you've ever enjoyed the scent of a pine forest or sniffed a freshly cut basil leaf, then you're familiar with terpenes. The compounds are responsible for the essential oils of plants and the resins of trees. Since the discovery of terpenes more than 150 years ago, scientists have isolated some 50,000 different terpene compounds derived from plants and fungi. Bacteria and other microorganisms are known to make terpenes too, but they've received much less study.
New research at Brown University, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that the genetic capacity of bacteria to make terpenes is widespread. Using a specialized technique to sift through genomic databases for a variety of bacteria, the researchers found 262 gene sequences that likely code for terpene synthases -- enzymes that catalyze the production terpenes. The researchers then used several of those enzymes to isolate 13 previously unidentified bacterial terpenes.
The findings suggest that bacteria "represent a fertile source for discovery of new natural products," the researchers write.
David Cane, a professor of chemistry at Brown and one of the authors on the new paper, began working about 15 years ago to understand how bacteria make terpenes.
"At that time, the first genomic sequences of certain classes of bacteria were just beginning to come out," he said. "We had this idea that maybe you could find the enzymes responsible for making terpenes by looking at the sequences of the genes that were being discovered."
To do that, Cane searched through the genome data gathered for a group of bacteria called Streptomyces, looking for sequences similar those known to produce terpene synthases in plants and fungi. Eventually, he found that Streptomyces did indeed have genes encoding terpene synthases and that those enzymes could be used to make terpenes.
The verified bacterial sequences found by Cane and others enabled researchers to refine subsequent searches for additional terpene synthase genes. "Instead of using plant sequences or fungal sequences as your search query, we can now use bacterial sequences, which should yield a greater degree of similarity," he said. "So now we're fishing in the right waters with the right kind of bait, and you can find more matches."
This latest paper made use of the third generation of iterative searches and a powerful search technique developed by Haruo Ikeda of Kitasato University in Japan. Previous work had identified 140 probable sequences for terpene synthases. This latest work expanded that to 262.
The next step was to verify that these sequences did indeed code for enzymes capable of making terpenes. Testing all 262 wasn't practical, so the team chose a few they thought might give them the best chance of finding terpene compounds that hadn't previously been identified. They looked for sequences that didn't seem to fit clearly into previously known categories of terpenes.
After they had selected a few, the team made use of a genetically engineered Streptomyces bacterium as a bio-refinery to generate the terpene products.
"What Professor Ikeda did, in collaboration with us, is develop a variant of a very well-studied Streptomyces system," Cane said. "He eliminated the genes that were responsible for making most of its native products, but he left behind all of the capacity to provide the starting materials and handle the accumulation of products."
By taking some of the gene sequences they found and splicing them into their test organism, the researchers could let the organisms generate the product using the instructions from the newly introduced gene. Using this method, they were able to make 13 previously unknown terpenes, their structures verified by mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy.
"It's a big step forward in the area in that it provides a paradigm for how one could go about discovering many new substances," Cane said. "It's a good example of how one can use sequence analysis to identify genes of interest and then apply molecular genetic and microbiological techniques to produce the chemical substances of interest."
The work also suggests that there may be many new terpene products as yet undiscovered hiding in the genomes of bacteria.

Patent awarded for compounds that inhibit biofilm formation and persistence
UMD awarded patent for compounds capable of fighting antibiotic-resistant bacteria

In the current era of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, treatment of unwanted microbial growth presents a difficult challenge for microbiologists and clinicians. The problem is further complicated when these bacteria form biofilms--protective matrixes of polysaccharides and proteins that encase bacteria attached to surfaces. Even when antibiotics are effective against single cells, they are oftentimes unable to eradicate the biofilm itself.
To attack this problem, University of Maryland researchers have developed chemical compounds that enhance the effectiveness of conventional antibiotics and inhibit the formation and persistence of biofilms. On Feb. 10, 2015, the researchers were awarded U.S. Patent 8,952,192 for the compounds.
The UMD inventors include Herman Sintim, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry; William Bentley, Fischell Department of Bioengineering Chair; Reza Ghodssi, Herbert Rabin Distinguished Chair in Engineering from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and director of the Institute for Systems Research; Jacqueline Smith, who received her doctorate in chemistry from UMD in 2011; and Varnika Roy and Mariana Meyer, who received doctorates in bioengineering from UMD in 2011 and 2014, respectively.
The patented compounds inhibit the bacterial communication process called quorum sensing. Through quorum sensing, neighboring bacterial cells produce and detect chemical signals called autoinducers. As the number of cells in a population increases, so does the concentration of these autoinducers. When a specific concentration of autoinducers is reached, bacteria begin to act less like single cells and more like a colony. They can coordinate their gene expression and perform complex pathogenic and symbiotic processes, such as forming biofilms, producing virulence factors and inducing bioluminescence.
The researchers' compounds are based on autoinducer AI-2 and its precursor DPD (4,5-dihydroxy-2,3-pentanedione), which is produced or recognized by more than 70 species of bacteria. The team developed analogs of DPD that do not trigger bacterial virulence, but are similar enough in structure to be recognized by DPD and AI-2 receptors. By binding with the receptors, the analogs block AI-2 from binding, preventing the receptors from sending quorum sensing signals.
"We're using bacterial cells' own machinery against them, by blocking signals that would normally result in biofilm formation. These molecules also trick bacteria into exhibiting behaviors that will alert the immune system to their presence," said Sintim.
In a 2010 paper published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society and a 2012 paper published in the journal ACS Chemical Biology, the researchers found that the shape and flexibility of the analog compounds are important for generating productive interactions between the analog and AI-2 receptor. Moreover, some analogs work better against certain bacterial species than others. For example, one analog called propyl-DPD (DPD plus C3H7) worked against E. coli, but only butyl-DPD (DPD plus C4H9) had an effect on Salmonella typhimurium.
"We found that disruption of AI-2 signaling in environmental containing multiple species of bacteria will likely require multiple AI-2 analogs used in combination," said Sintim.
In 2013, the team demonstrated that isobutyl-DPD (DPD plus (CH3)2CH-CH2) could significantly inhibit the maturation of E. coli biofilms. Additionally, they found that combining isobutyl-DPD with the antibiotic gentamicin effectively cleared pre-existing E. coli biofilms. Similarly, phenyl-DPD (DPD plus C6H5) used in combination with gentamicin cleared pre-existing Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms. These results were published in the journal Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology.
Later that year, the team collaborated with Korean scientists to solve the crystal structure of a bacterial regulatory protein in complex with their synthetic analogs,. Insights gained from this structural work, which was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, led to a new generation of stable DPD analogs that were described in the journal Chemical Communications.
"This work suggests the possibility of resurrecting traditional antibiotics, which were once effective but have been rendered ineffective due to bacterial resistance, by co-administration with innocuous AI-2-based quorum sensing inhibitors," said Sintim.
The team's fundamental chemical and structural findings have paved the way for them to develop more potent molecules that "tame" bacteria. The researchers are currently developing hybrid molecules combining molecules that stop bacterial communication with molecules that kill bacteria.
"Bacterial biofilms are notoriously resistant to antibiotics so putting anti-biofilm and antibacterial molecules in one hybrid unit could deliver spectacular results," said Sintim.

How to make palm oil without destroying forests

The versatility of palm oil has led to its use in not just food products but also in everyday goods from lipstick to laundry detergent. But its utility has resulted in the destruction of Southeast Asian rain forests that are the primary source of the oil. An article in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, explores what avenues companies and scientists are taking to produce the oil sustainably.
Alex Scott, a senior editor at C&EN, notes that about 63 million metric tons of palm oil is harvested every year with 87 percent of it coming from Malaysia and Indonesia. According to a 2007 report by the United Nations Environment Programme, the situation has been particularly dire in Indonesia. The country was on track to lose 98 percent of its natural rain forest by 2022 unless it implemented strict conservation measures.
To address this toll, palm oil producers and biotechnology firms are developing multiple strategies. A group of 855 producers called the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil has devised two certification systems to encourage companies to source their oil from sustainable plantations.
On the research front, scientists have been figuring out how to make products similar to palm oil from yeast and algae. Some of these techniques are already being used in specialty products.

Around the year with CREMER Care
Travel through the seasons at the show with CREMER Care. Based in Germany, CREMER Care is a producer of specialty ingredients and will present four new concepts for the four seasons. Spring into action and start the year with light preservation, using natural-based preservative boosters: CremerCOOR®GC8 and GC810, to reduce preservatives. Move into the warm summer days with light, elegant and non-oily silicone substitutes: MIGLYOL®8810, CremerCOOR® MCT C7, Coco 810 and PPG 810 show just how good silicone-free can feel. As the days grow colder, and autumn approaches, this is the season to produce richer formulations, but in a modern way. Offering an alternative to petrolatum-based creams, Cremerlin®PURA is the vegetable answer to petrochemically-derived soft and creamy oil bases. Providing very similar caring properties to petrolatum jelly, Cremerlin®PURA gives a better skin feel with the added benefit of being a green alternative. Concluding the year, winter brings cold temperatures and heated homes, which can lead to dry skin. Protection is needed against both. CREMER Care have developed SOFTISAN®649, a non-animal derived alternative to lanolin that is completely free from any impurities that may cause skin reactions, while still providing the same film forming and protecting effect for any formulation.
CREMER Care, Stand 7H20

Confocal Microscopy opens a “window into the skin” and provides you an in-vivo histology for skin analyses on a cellular level – in real time.
Innovative and Reliable
Today you can combine all VivaScope confocal microscopes, the flagship VivaScope 1500, the handheld VivaScope 3000, and the high-end fluorescence microscope VivaScope 1500 Multilaser, with a fully automated whole-body documentation device and an HD dermoscopy camera (VivaCam®). All devices can be integrated together with viewer licenses into the user-friendly IT-environment VivaLan®, which allows easy archiving, storage and viewing of your images. With this entire imaging solution you’re ready for reproducible, efficient, and reliable skin imaging in your daily work.
Quantification Software ConfoScan®
The application areas of this especially for VivaScopes developed software are: Thickness measurement of stratum corneum, quantification of melanin, determination of size, shape, and number of skin cells and dermal papillae. The confocal images can be digitized and represented numerically.
Training program
Users are provided with a free modular training program including introduction training, expert and online training, supplementary study material and educational books. The 537 abstracts about CLSM published up to now have been compiled on

A new molecule naturally secreted by humans, opiorphin, was discovered by the Pasteur Institute in 2006. The principle behind the painkilling effect of this peptide is to protect endogenous opioids, enkephalins, from degradation by enzymes, enkephalinases. This biochemical soothing compound, which is present in saliva, has a topical effect on the skin and opens the way to developing new soothing compounds that will increase the feeling of well-being. Greenpharma is interested in this scientific concept, protecting it with a patent, and would like to propose it to the cosmetic industry.

Kao Chemicals Europe has opened an office in São Paulo to strengthen its activities in Brazilian market.
The new office address:
Kao Brasil Ltda
R.Casa do Ator, 1117, conjunto 152,
Vila Olimpia, São Paulo, SP, CEP 04546-004
Tel: 55 11 3045 2400

Clariant and Beraca, a leading player in natural, sustainable and innovative ingredients, have announced a strategic alliance which comprises the intention to acquire a 30% share of Beraca’s Division Health and Personal Care by Clariant, with the possibility of major participation in the future. The transaction will be subject to certain conditions precedent, as well as regulatory approvals. Beraca is a leading provider of natural and organic certified ingredients sustainably drawn from Brazil’s biodiversity. The company is known and valued by customers worldwide as a reference for sustainable development due to its unique Sociobiodiversity Enhancement Program® and full traceability of raw materials from Brazilian biomes, especially the Amazon Rainforest – the world´s largest and most diverse rainforest. Beraca works closely with local communities and associations to ensure eco-sustainable standards and practices in its product sourcing and production.

In 2009, Oleon was integrated in the French Sofiprotéol Group, a strong financial and industrial organization in the vegetable oils and proteins sector with activities in food, feed, biofuels and oleochemistry. The group is now introducing a new governance model and a new organisational structure, in order to bolster its long-term independence. By changing it’s legal and financial structure, a clearer distinction is made between the industrial activities and the activities of the Avril Group’s financing and development company. This historic step in the Group’s development is accompanied by a new name and a new visual identity: the Avril Group. This change enables the consolidation of the Group and improves its visibility, while providing it with improved access to new financing in order to drive its development.

The Lubrizol Corporation was awarded the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) certification according to the European Federation for Cosmetics Ingredients (EFfCI). EFfCI is a European trade association that brings together manufacturers of synthetic and natural ingredients for the cosmetics and personal care industry. Their GMP certification is based on very strict guidelines of maintaining product quality and industry hygiene during the manufacturing process. Lubrizol received the certification for its manufacturing of Acrylic acid polymers including Carbopol® Polymers and Pemulen™ Polymeric Emulsifiers in Lubrizol's facility in Kallo, Belgium. "We are extremely proud of this achievement" said Jeff Carey, global product management director for Lubrizol personal and home care. Lubrizol's team of experts in R&D, manufacturing, logistics and customer service all take quality seriously. We develop each and every product to meet the high quality standards that our customers demand. It's all part of our growth strategy to provides solutions to the personal care global market".

Colour, scent, texture, skin sensation: the sensory properties of cosmetics are often critical for whether a product is purchased again or not. BASF, under the title “Sensory 2.0”, will showcase new ingredients, formulations and concepts with specific sensory characteristics that are able to play a vital role in consumer preference of cosmetic products. Dirk Mampe, Head of Business Management of Personal Care Specialties Europe, explained: “From consumers’ point of view, the sensory characteristics of a personal care product are as significant as efficacy and safety. Since the consumers are emotionally attached to their cosmetics, sensory characteristics can create an emotional link between the consumer and the product. At BASF, we help our customers to optimize the sensory properties of their cosmetic products in order to achieve a clear preference by consumers”. The market for natural cosmetics is constantly asking for high-performance new ingredients. BASF is going to present a new emulsifier that is completely natural-based. At the same time, it convinces with distinct sensory benefits like delicate emulsion-texture, easy skin distribution as well as silky and light skin sensation.

Created in 2000 by Antony Buck and Robert Calcraft, REN pioneered a new type of high performance skin care. REN’s combination of effectiveness, naturalness and pleasurable experience – articulated as ‘performance; purity; pleasure’ – gives the brand a highly distinctive market position that has global relevance. The multi-award winning brand is today sold in 50 countries and has built a committed consumer base. The range is sold predominantly in specialty stores and pharmacies. Vasiliki Petrou, Unilever SVP Prestige Brands, says: “We are delighted to be adding REN to the Unilever portfolio of personal care brands. It is a brand with an incredibly loyal following, with a unique proposition that no doubt gives it potential for even further growth, especially given that the naturals category is one of the fastest growing in skincare globally. Its premium positioning complements well our existing portfolio”. Antony Buck, REN CEO, adds: “It’s been an amazing experience creating and building REN over the last 15 years but it’s time for the brand to go to the next level. Unilever is a great company with great principles; it has a profound understanding of brands and global reach; it makes the perfect partner to help REN fulfil its future potential worldwide. We can’t wait to get started!”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The acquisition is expected to close in May 2015, subject to customary regulatory approvals.

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