Sandalwood oil has been prized for thousands of years for its subtle and refined woody scent. It is obtained from the trees of the genus Santalum, which are indigenous to Southeast Asia, and is traditionally used in preparing many types of perfume compositions. However, the sandalwood tree has now become endangered due to overharvesting, greatly limiting supply and hence use.
Sandalwood oil primarily consists of a number of sesquiterpenoids, with alphasantalol and beta-santalol comprising around 80%. Beta-santalol is the most important character impact compound, but is economically non-feasible to chemically synthesise.
The high cost of East Indian sandalwood oil, and the lack of a stable supply of the material, have forced the industry to replace it with synthetic substitutes and with Australian sandalwood oil (Santalum Spicatum). Unfortunately, Australian sandalwood oil is not only in short supply but does not have the odour quality of East Indian sandalwood oil due to its lack of beta-santalol. This opens an opportunity for Evolva to produce alpha- and beta-santalol by fermentation. Alpha- and beta-santalol will find use in sandalwood oil replacement formulations, as a sandalwood oil extender and as stand-alone fragrance ingredients.