Author: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer

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Last updated on: 15.04.2021

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Ambroxide is a naturally occurring terpenoid and one of the main components responsible for the smell of ambergris (also known as amber ) (Zerbe P et al. 2015). It is an autoxidation product of amrein. Plant labdane diterpenes can serve as starting materials for ambroxide synthesis. Among these, the diterpene alcohol sclareol is the main industrial starting material obtained from cultivated clary sage(Salvia sclarea) (Zerbe P et al. 2015).

Ambroxide is used in perfumery to produce ambergris notes and as a fixative. Small amounts (< 0.01 ppm) are used as a flavouring agent in food. Ambroxide is now used instead of ambergris (Panten J et al. 2014).

Ambergris is a grey, waxy, pleasant-smelling substance from the digestive tract of sperm whales. The grey (ambergris) and black ambergris used to be of considerable importance in the manufacture of perfumes. The fragrance is described as woody, dry, balsamic, somewhat tobacco-like with an aphrodisiac note.

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Ambroxides are terpenoids that are widely used in the perfume industry due to their fixing properties and odor. 25 tons of ambroxide are produced per year.

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  1. Panten J et al. (2014) Recent results in the search for new molecules with ambergris odor. Chem Biodivers 11:1639-1650.
  2. Rowland SJ et al (2019) The age of ambergris. Nat Prod Res 33: 3134-3142.
  3. Zerbe P et al (2015) Enzymes for synthetic biology of ambroxide-related diterpenoid fragrance compounds. Adv Biochem Eng Biotechnol 148:427-447.

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Ambra; Terpenes;


Last updated on: 15.04.2021