Why is crocin banned
An international team of researchers has proven an enzyme that gives the noble saffron its color and aroma. Scientists from the University of Freiburg were also involved in the study.
Apparently the enzyme "Carotenoid Cleavage Dioxygenase 2" (CCD2) is responsible for the formation of the relevant substances crocetin / crocin, picrocrocin and saffranal.
The scientists examined the pistils of the crocus at an early stage of development, when crocetin and crocin are formed. In fact, the gene for CCD2 was particularly active at this stage, the scientists explain. Then they smuggled the gene into bacteria and maize plants. They found that the enzyme also cleaves a precursor carotenoid (zeaxanthin) in these model organisms, thereby causing the relevant substances to be formed.
Saffron is made from the dried pistils of the crocus (Crocus sativus), which grows in temperate climates. For 1 kg of saffron threads, 100,000 flowers have to be harvested by hand, so that the price is between 2,000 and 7,000 euros. So far, the ingredients of the crocuses, which are also used as coloring agents and in medicine, could not be produced biotechnologically. The new findings have taken research in this area one step further.
Heike Kreutz, www.aid.de
Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), pre-published online August 5, 2014
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