GLG develops stevia leaf seedling with 1000% increase of rebaudioside M

Reb M, one of several steviol glycosides found in the stevia plant, is highly desired in the industry as a natural, zero-calorie sugar and sweetener replacement

GLG Life Tech Corporation, a global leader in the agricultural and commercial development of high-quality zero-calorie natural sweeteners, is pleased to announce today a major breakthrough in its agricultural R&D programme.

Through this programme, GLG aims to revolutionise the global food and beverage industry by providing companies with the ability to replace sugars and artificial sweeteners with naturally sourced Rebaudioside M (Reb M). The programme's latest accomplishment - a stevia leaf strain with Reb M levels more than ten times higher than conventional stevia leaf.

Reb M, one of several steviol glycosides found in the stevia plant, is highly desired in the industry as a natural, zero-calorie sugar and sweetener replacement, one that very closely resembles sugar. To date, the impediment to utilising Reb M has been its scarce presence in the stevia leaf, making commercial use cost-prohibitive. Bringing a naturally sourced Reb M extract to the market on a commercial scale requires a dramatic increase in the presence of Reb M glycosides in the leaf.

A dramatic increase in Reb M is just what GLG has achieved. Through development of its Reb M seedling using its non-GMO patented breeding methodology, GLG has now produced more than a 1000% increase in Reb M levels in stevia leaf. Conventional stevia leaf has Reb M concentrations at less than 0.1% of dry leaf weight, and less than 1% of total steviol glycosides (TSG). In GLG's seedling, Reb M constitutes more than 1% of dry leaf weight, and over 8% of the TSG's. TSGs constitute about 13% of dry leaf weight in GLG's new seedling, which is still above the industry average of 10-12% of dry leaf weight.

The 1000% increase in Reb M glycosides in its new variety is the result of two key factors: (1) an expanded Reb M seedling development program that GLG undertook in 2015 and (2) the 25 years' experience of its chief agronomist. The 2015 programme involved evaluating thousands of different stevia strains, requiring an extensive programme to identify and promote the most promising strains. GLG's 2014 breakthrough with its high rebaudioside C (Reb C) seedlings clearly demonstrated the promise of its patented non-GMO seedling hybridization technology to significantly increase scarce glycosides. And in 2015, GLG announced a stevia leaf strain with significantly enhanced levels of both Rebaudioside D (Reb D) and Reb M. This latest achievement, focused specifically on Reb M, further demonstrates GLG's agricultural prowess.

GLG is in the process of filing for patent protection for its Reb D and Reb M seedlings. Dr Luke Zhang, CEO and Chairman of GLG, commented: 'Pursuing one or more seedling strains with especially high Reb M and Reb D continues to be our #1 agricultural R&D focus. The pace at which we have been making great strides forward has exceeded even our own expectations. I am confident that GLG will continue to make further significant improvements in the Reb M and Reb D glycoside content in its next generation seedlings as part of its ongoing agriculture programme.'

GLG has filed two GRAS applications with the FDA for high-purity Reb D (GRN 548) and Reb M (GRN 512), with purity levels ranging from 80% to 95% to be used as a sweetener.

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