Plants and their environment
To Professor Gilles Comte, Director of the Centre for the study of natural substances, plants must be considered within their environment. They do not live alone, as they interact with predators, but they also have to cope with specific temperature, water stress, and soil composition conditions that have an influence on their own development. “We focus on the interactions between plants and bacteria in particular. We are trying to find out what impact bacteria have on the metabolism of plants, but also how plants act on bacteria”. This chemical ecology is based on powerful analysis tools using genomics.
New extraction methods
Supercritical fluids, enzymatic aqueous extraction, use of NADES solvents… multiple strategies to obtain compounds of interest from plant materials are developing for more and more efficacy and less environmental impact. Solvent extraction is being replaced by greener techniques that provide compounds with enriched profiles.
“Thanks to CO2 supercritical extraction, it is possible to modulate the composition of the extracts obtained, which is not the case with hydrodistillation or solvent extraction,” explains Karima Benaissi, Technical Manager at Innovation Fluides Supercritiques.
As for Gattefossé, in 2012 the company committed to a broad research programme on new NADES solvents directly inspired from the way metabolites are solubilized in plant cells. “Prospects are numerous, as it is a topic that was described in the literature very recently, in particular by Pr Robert Verpoorte, of the University of Leiden, Netherlands”, specifies Virginie Charton, Research Engineer at Gattefossé.
Plants could not reveal their full potential without biotechnologies, which optimize solutions and offer more possibilities. “We exploit the potential of plant roots using our ‘plant milking’ technology to reach the secondary metabolites of plants and get yields 300 times higher than those we would obtain with traditional cultures,” clarifies Anaïs Thevenin-Gavoille, of PAT.
All in all, this congress was very rich, as experts in process engineering, safety, efficacy and formulation were able to explore all the facets of plant neochemistry as well as its use in the cosmetics industry in a warm, friendly atmosphere.