We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Trehalose?

By Helga George
Updated May 21, 2024
Our promise to you
All The Science is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At All The Science, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Trehalose is an unusual disaccharide — a compound composed of two sugars; the sugars in trehalose are both glucose. Starch is also a disaccharide of glucose, but unlike starch, the glucose units in trehalose are combined in an alpha linkage, which is an unusual type of chemical bonding. It makes this compound non-reducing and remarkably stable to high temperatures and acidic conditions, properties atypical for most sugars. It also acts as an antioxidant. Trehalose is about half as sweet as glucose and is broken down to glucose by the enzyme trehalase.

The primary function trehalose is known for in biology is to protect organisms that contain large amounts of it from extreme temperatures and drying out. Trehalose was originally identified from a fungal infection on rye, and first isolated from a substance made by weevils. It is found in animals, plants, bacteria, and fungi.

Trehalose is very effective at retaining water, and this property is thought to enable certain organisms to survive dessication, or drying out. This property is known as anhydrobiosis. The larvae of sea monkeys, for example, are able to seemingly miraculously spring back to life upon the addition of water. This is thought to happen because trehalose has acted as a gel and maintained the three dimensional structure of the lipid and protein structures of the cell by surrounding them throughout the drying period and while the animals are rehydrated, enabling them to maintain their internal 3-D structure. A similar situation is thought to exist for the resurrection moss Selaginella.

Only a very small amount of the human diet includes trehalose, and what people do eat is obtained primarily from mushrooms. A small percentage of the population lacks the ability to make the enzyme trehalase, and thus cannot break down trehalose. These people can become ill after eating certain mushrooms such as Shitake which contain trehalose. This condition is less common than lactose intolerance.

The stability, mild sweetness, and water-retaining ability of trehalose make it appealing for a variety of commercial applications in the food, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical industries. It is used as a preservative for foods and to minimize harsh flavors and odors. It is used as a moisturizer in cosmetics, and in research to stabilize proteins and lipids. It is also used to protect organs for transplants.

There is consumer interest in trehalose as an alternative to sugar as a sweetener. It does not raise blood sugar levels as much as sugar and is considered more natural than the synthetic alternatives, so it is appealing to diabetics. Trehalose has also shown promise in model systems for treating neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Huntington's Disease.

All The Science is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.