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On Location: Vanilla 2007, Day One

Posted: December 12, 2007

See the December 26 edition of P&Fnow for Part 2 of Brownell’s report from Vanilla 2007.

Vanilla 2007, organized by Daphna Havkin-Frenkel (Bakto Flavors), took place November 7th and 8th at the Forsgate Country Club in Jamesburg, NJ. More than 80 international attendees gathered to share the latest information on commercial and scientific developments in vanilla.

Vanilla DNA

Day one of the official Vanilla Congress included several interesting presentations. Faith Belanger of Rutgers University gave a presentation on species identification by DNA sequencing. Belanger explained the basic methodology of DNA sequencing and how it can be used to identify and classify plant species. During her talk, Belanger cited the work initially begun by Ken Cameron of the New York Botanical Garden. Cameron, world renown for his scientific study of orchids, has identified eight unique species of vanilla to date.   

Only two species of vanilla—Vanilla planifolia and Vanilla tahitiensis—are approved for making vanilla extracts in the United States. Belanger concluded her presentation by presenting the results her analysis of a vanilla plant grown widely throughout Central America. In fact, DNA analysis confirmed, as had long been rumored, that this vine is a hybrid cross of V. planifolia and Vanilla pompona. Though not permitted in the United States, V. pompona is used in other parts of the world and exhibits a much greater resistance to disease than does V. planifolia.