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Genetic Linkage

Perfume from Extinct Flowers, Thanks to Ancient DNA and Synthetic Biology

"Enchant your loved ones with nature's lost scents, revived through biotechnology and perfume artistry."


When that popped up on Facebook, I was intrigued. So I clicked.


"Meet Invisible Woods: a clean, refreshing scent revived from extinct flower DNA," beneath an image of "origin flower" Wendlandia angustifolia.


A quick search revealed that this plant had been presumed extinct, until one popped up in a 1998 survey of its natural habitat in Tamil Nadu, India. Invisible Woods is not really "revived," but "reimagined," using clues from ancient flowers and the tools of biotechnology.


Future Society offers six fragrances inspired by past plants, for $98 per 50 milliliters (a little under 2 ounces) or a $35 sampler ideal for a stocking stuffer. Boston-based Ginkgo Bioworks provides the expertise in genetics.


I don't use scented products other than Pine-Sol, so this was all new to me. DermNet defines "fragrance" as a combination of organic compounds that produces a distinct smell, whereas a perfume is a liquid mixture that emits a pleasant odor, and oilier than a fragrance. I don't exactly get the distinction, but apparently perfume is the oilier of the two and perfume, cologne, and aftershave are all fragrances.


Before I dig into the science, I'll relate taking a quiz on the Future Society website that would help me choose a product. I clicked on the "friend" option, my bestie, Wendy. 


To continue reading, go to DNA Science, where this post first appeared.

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