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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Domestic Alternative to Imported Gum Arabic--A Key Food Ingredient
See also: US Patent Office Full Record

Patent Number: 7442528
Docket Number: 5706
Serial Number: 11387313
Date Patented: 10/28/2008

Technology Description:


ARS researchers have unlocked the secret to producing a reliable, consistent alternative to gum arabic–modified alternan.  They developed a way to use Penicillium strains to turn alternan, made by an enzyme called alternansucrase produced by the Leuconostoc mesenteroides bacterium, into a food thickener and stabilizer that can be used in a variety of processed foods. Alternan’s high solubility and low viscosity properties make it attractive for numerous potential food and industrial applications. The invention is a simple method to produce modified alternan that more closely resembles gum arabic.  Modified alternan lacks gum arabic’s emulsification capacity, but may be suitable for other applications.  Gum arabic, which comes from the African Acacia tree, is exclusively imported from the Middle East.  It is used as an emulsifier, which helps water and food oils mix and stay mixed.  Food processors use it in small amounts to make icing stick to cakes, and prevent syrups from crystallizing.  The United States imports about 25 million pounds of gum arabic annually.  Imported gum arabic is available in unreliable amounts, quality and prices.  Developing this technology will offer a domestic source for this key food ingredient, and will help reduce or eliminate U.S. reliance on imported gum Arabic.  This technology will benefit the food processing industry. 




Please refer to S.N. 11/387,313 (Docket #0057.06), “Modified Alternan,” which was filed on March 23, 2006, and is a divisional of USPN 7,049,105 (Docket #0209.02), “Modified Alternan,” which issued on May 23, 2006, and is a divisional of USPN 6,479,275 (Docket #0231.99), “Penicillium Isolates for Modifying Alternan,” which issued November 12, 2002.  Foreign rights are not available for these inventions.




Timothy D. Leathers
Fermentation Biotechnology Research
Peoria, Illinois  61604-3999
Phone: (309)681-6377
    Fax: (309)681-6427


Melinda S. Nunnally
(Same as first inventor)

Gregory L. Cote
(Same as first inventor)
Phone: (309)681-6319

   Fax: (309)681-6689


Last Modified: 10/1/2015
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