Switzerland-based perfume and flavour giant, Firmenich, is heading the venture and working in collaboration with marine research and development company, Møreforsking Marin, based in Norway.
Ola Ween, group leader of marine biotechnology for Møreforsking Marin, is heading the project and leading the team of researchers in the initial stages.
Ween said: “Our part in the ‘noodle-project’ is to conduct research on different raw-materials of marine origin that might be used in production of flavours later on. Firmenich will analyse the raw-material in more detail in their labs.”
“This project is in its infancy, it has just started but is set to be finished next year,” Ween explained.
Marine bioprospecting for flavours
The research team will be looking to identify and source commercial compounds from various marine resources from the Norwegian coast.
The team will also look to identify Chinese taste preferences for seafood to enable suitable compounds to be sourced.
Firmenich stated that they cannot share any additional information about the project at this stage.
Ween said that Norwegian marine life provides great opportunities in terms of potential flavour sources: “Our advantage is access to clean oceans and very fresh raw material. This is without question very important in the production of high quality flavours. Also, we have novel species that might have hidden tastes no one has investigated yet. This is partly what the project aims to investigate,” he said.
Flavours are a new field for Ween and his team, he pointed out. Møreforsking Marin has worked on other projects to identify compounds, for example, identifying antimicrobial activity.
Ween said that marine bioprospecting is an extremely broad field and remains a new and emerging one. “It has just recently been appointed as a target area in Norway. So a lot of money will go into this type of research in the near future,” he added.
This particular project has received funding of around €54,000 ($74,196) from the Research Council of Norway, under its national programme for research in functional genomics (FUGE).