Mid-December saw the opening of the Extracts Library of the Plant Centre for Plant Compounds at the Keukenhof. This library contains over 2,200 extracts obtained from horticultural crops in the Netherlands.

Plants contain a wealth of beneficial substances. In fact, a single plant can contain anywhere from 15,000 to 30,000 different botanical compounds. Nevertheless, this rich resource is not tapped into nearly enough, which is probably due to a lack of information about plant compounds. The Centre of Expertise for Plant Compounds aims to change all that. A database has since been created that contains over 2,240 extracts derived from various plant materials (leaves, stalks, roots, tubers, bulbs, etc.) from 1,300 different species of plants found in the Dutch horticulture industry, as well as information about their edibility, bioactivity, toxicity, traditional use and applicable legislature.

Through this Extracts Library the knowledge centre has created a platform where a diversity of parties can further their knowledge of plant compounds and use this to develop innovative products. Screening and conducting research into plant extracts will enable botanical compounds to be discovered for new applications. The first successful application has been found: a compound was identified in a plant grown in the Dutch horticulture industry that can be used to combat Fusarium, a fungal disease to which tulips are susceptible.

Plant compounds

There are over 100,000 to 200,000 different plant compounds in the various crops grown in the Dutch horticulture industry. The structure and capacities of these substances are still largely unknown. Many of these plant compounds have ground-breaking potential in the pharmaceutical, agrochemical, cosmetics and dietary supplements industries, and additionally as animal feed supplements or colourants, fragrances and flavouring agents. The Library is already collaborating with France’s ‘Cosmetic Valley’ in the development of new cosmetic applications, such as fragrances, and collaborative ventures have also been initiated with the pharmaceutical and food industries.

Knowledge institutes will benefit from the Extracts Library by using the extracts for applied as well as basic research. This will result in new applications and innovations. The Centre of Expertise for Plant Compounds anticipates that the knowledge contributed by the Extracts Library will enable growers and breeders to develop into suppliers of high-quality substances.

The Extracts Library was opened officially by Adrie Bom-Lemstra, member of the Provincial Executive of the Province of Zuid-Holland for the CDA, on 14 December.

Source: Centre of Expertise for Plant Compounds. Photo: Mario Bentvelsen.