Trehalose, also known as mycose or tremalose, is a natural alpha-linked disaccharide formed by an α,α-1,1-glucoside bond between two α-glucose units.In 1832, H.A.L. Wiggers discovered trehalose in an ergot of rye, and in 1859 Marcellin Berthelot isolated it from trehala manna, a substance made by weevils, and named it trehalose.
It can be synthesised by bacteria,fungi, plants, and invertebrate animals. It is implicated in anhydrobiosis - the ability ofplants and animals to withstand prolonged periods of desiccation.
It has high water retention capabilities, and is used in food and cosmetics. The sugar is thought to form a gel phase ascells dehydrate, which prevents disruption of internal cell organelles, by effectively splinting them in position. Rehydration then allows normal cellular activity to be resumed without the major, lethal damage that would normally follow a dehydration/rehydration cycle.
Trehalose has the added advantage of being an antioxidant. Extracting trehalose used to be a difficult and costly process, but, recently, the Hayashibara company (Okayama, Japan) confirmed an inexpensive extraction technology from starch for mass production. Trehalose is currently being used for a broad spectrum of applications.