Denmark-based Danisco has begun an extraordinary research project to discover whether enzymes found in "overlooked species" could be used as ingredients in food and drink products.
The Danish Council for Strategic Research awarded the company, headquartered in Copenhagen DKK24 million ($4.4m) to look into the nature of the enzymes derived from snakes, spiders and carnivorous plants over the next four years.
Charlotte Poulsen, of Danisco division Genencor Enzyme Development, said species such as these, which were rarely investigated for their ingredients potential, could be the key to discovering powerful new enzymes for use in everyday products such as food.
"When a spider catches a fly in its web, it injects digestive enzymes into its prey to liquefy it," she said. "This makes it easy for the spider to devour the fly. The digestive enzymes are highly effective and we are very keen on looking into the dynamics of these enzymes."
Enzymes are natural protein molecules that act as highly efficient catalysts in biochemical reactions.