Scientists at the University of British Columbia have isolated a gene from the DNA of the Balsam Fir Tree which will enable them to replace ambergris with an equally effective synthetic compound; potentially revolutionizing the perfume industry. This news should come as a relief to any whales on the forum. http://www.vancouversun.com/life/fa...uld+shake+perfume+industry/6421172/story.html Whale vomit, a key ingredient in perfume, could be left out at sea as researchers have isolated a tree compound that could replace the odd ingredient. The discovery made by researchers at the University of British Columbia identified a gene in balsam fir trees that could eliminate the need for ambergris a strong perfume fixative created from a regurgitated mixture of seashells, fish bones and a sticky inner-stomach substance that turns into a rock-like object once it reacts with sea water. Joerg Bohlmann, a professor at UBC and lead researcher at the school's Michael Smith laboratories, said enzymes found in the resin of the tree bark, once isolated, were used to create a synthetic compound that replaces ambergris. "We are now able to isolate the one biocatalyst that can create the compound without need to harvest from a natural source," said Bohlmann. "This creation of the compound in a lab would ensure that the animal is never hunted if the product cannot be found naturally and as well would protect the balsam fir from extinction." The distinctly scented ambergris bearing a musky, sweet earthy aroma clings to fabrics and is added to high-end perfumes to help the scent last longer on skin. Massimo Marcone, a professor in the department of food sciences at the University of Guelph in Ontario, says although there are synthetic substitutes for ambergris, small companies will continue to use the product for the odour it provides the perfume. "The fixatives make the notes of the perfume last longer and less volatile and this can be easily replicated," said Marcone. "But small manufacturers prefer the ambergris because the substitutes miss the complexity of the natural smell. Depending on the grading, a gram of ambergris can cost up to $50." Darren Praznik, CEO and president of the Canadian Cosmetic Toiletry and Fragrance Association, says the creation of synthetic compounds is vital in producing environmentally sound products. "With the difficulty in obtaining compounds in volumes, it is easy to put a group of animals or plants in danger," said Praznik. "Fragrance is composed of hundreds of small materials so synthetic molecules should be created." Bohlmann said although ambergris is collected by hand along the shores of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, its use in perfume is controversial. "This new compound would eliminate the fear of source depletion that is only slowly regenerated," said Bohlmann. "Without fear of losing the plant life, plant-based products could eliminate animal-based products entirely." The research will be published Friday in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. It makes me proud to be a Canadian!