Tropical sandalwood produces one of the world’s most highly prized fragrances in the perfume industry. Due to over-exploitation, sandalwood populations are threatened in some of their native locations. The Bohlmann Lab applied an integrated metabolomics and transcriptomics approach to sandalwood samples collected in a remote plantation in Northern Australia, which led to the discovery of the complete metabolic pathway of sandalwood oil biosynthesis. They then showed that the sandalwood genes can be used for bioengineering in yeast, enabling the development of alternative and sustainable production systems for sandalwood fragrance. The paper highlights the evolutionary diversification of stereo-selective and fragrance defining cytochrome P450 enzymes. This project was in collaboration with researchers at the University of Western Australia and funded, in part, by industry partner Evolva.
The journal cover image was taken by members of the Bohlmann lab, Mack Yuen and Jose Celedon. It is featured in the May 2016 issue of The Plant Journal.