[CH] Japanese Research has new use for Capsaicin

Thu, 9 Apr 1998 22:43:28 -0400

The following article is of interest:

"Vanillin Formation by Microbial Amine Oxidases from Vanillylamine"
Yoshida, A; Takenaka, Y.; Tamaki, H.; Frebort, I.; Adachi, O.; and Kumagai,
H.  in Journal
of Fermentation and Bioengineering (published in Japan in English) Vol. 84,
6  pp 603-605

It discusses testing of amine oxidase from Aspergillus niger and monoamine
oxidase from Escherichia coli to produce vanillin from vanillylamine.  
Most of
the vanillin of commerce is synthetically produced from eugenol (clove),
acid or guaiacol with only 20 tons of 12,000 tons used annually being
from vanilla beans.

One quote from the article is interesting:  "Vanillylamine
phenyl methylamine) is one of the possible precursors of vanillin.  It can
isolated from CAPSAICIN
(N-[(4-hydroxy-3-methoxy-phenyl)methyl]-8-methyl-6-nonenamide) by cleavage
of its amide bond.  Capsaicin, a natural pungent ingredient of peppers and
capsicums, can be easily obtained at low cost."

Well, for those of us who toil in gardens and watch our seedlings, the
capsaicin is obtained at a relatively dear price.  Further, it ought to be
a bit disturbing that the researchers suggest breaking our favorite
molecule to use a piece of it.  However, I suppose there is enough in
commerce to act as starting material to make some vanillin.  It might mean
planting more and hotter chiles, so the research could lead to some good
after all!

George Nelson