Innovative cultivation techniques and systems for better yields
Vanilla, one of the most popular spices worldwide, is only available in limited quantities. In order to contribute to increasing the availability of high-quality vanilla, the research project “SustainVanil” pursues the goals of developing an innovative indoor farming system for the cultivation of vanilla in Germany and working out new approaches for solving problems in established vanilla cultivation in Madagascar.
Vanilla, one of the world’s most popular spices, has only been available to the world’s population in limited quantities since it’s discovery as a high-quality crop. To meet the high demand for vanilla flavoring in food products, vanillin obtained from chemical and biosynthetic processes is used to flavor numerous products. However, this does not meet the desire of many consumers for more natural foods.
In order to contribute to increasing the availability of high-quality vanilla, the project “SustainVanil” was launched under the direction of Hochschule Osnabrück, involving the Max Rubner-Institut (MRI), Symrise AG, nadicom GmbH and Dr. Oetker Nahrungsmittel KG. The project is embedded in the innovation space NewFoodSystems, which is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).
The project goals are to develop an innovative indoor farming system for the cultivation of vanilla in Germany and to work out new approaches to solving the problems in established vanilla cultivation in Madagascar. Among other aspects, the project will investigate plant physiological growth and developmental processes of vanilla, analyze changes in the ingredient profile (metabolome) during these processes and investigate new biological plant protection methods.
In particular, the Department of Safety and Quality of Fruit and Vegetables, MRI is involved in the comprehensive characterization of the vanilla ingredient profile (metabolome) to unravel metabolic processes in flower development, which is a crucial step in vanilla production. A deeper understanding of these processes can help to establish a successful indoor cultivation of vanilla in Germany. In order to address these research questions adequately, detailed analyses of the metabolite profiles of different plant organs in defined developmental stages will be performed using a combination of comprehensive analytical techniques (GC×GC-MS, LC-MS).
The knowledge gained from the overall project will find application in the established vanilla cultivation in Madagascar and the development of a complementary production of natural vanilla in new cultivation systems.
The project is supported by the BMBF funding measure "Innovation Spaces Bioeconomy" within the framework of the "National Research Strategy Bioeconomy 2030".