In the study, Pier Giorgio Righetti and colleagues explain that cola drinks purportedly made from natural cola nuts are becoming popular and are sold in many natural food stores. Genuine cola "nuts" are seeds from the fruit of the cola tree, which is native to African rainforests, and they are expensive to harvest and ship. In West African cultures, people include the nuts in ceremonies and offer them to guests.
The nuts also have possible health benefits — they may help treat whooping cough, asthma, migraines and dysentery. Most soft drink manufacturers don't use cola nuts today, but a select few are starting to advertise cola as a natural ingredient in their products — and charge extra for it. To see whether consumers are getting what they pay for, the scientists set out to find a way to finger the drinks with real natural extracts.
The group found that testing for proteins was an accurate way to verify natural flavoring claims. They detected plant proteins in a drink claiming to have "organic agave syrup and cola nut extracts". On the other hand, Coca Cola products — which do not claim to include cola extract — have no protein. The scientists say, "The identifications here obtained represent the quality mark of this beverage and, in a way, give a certificate of authenticity."
The authors acknowledge funding from Fondazione Cariplo and PRIN-2008.
Michael Bernstein | EurekAlert!
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25.09.2017 | University of Maryland
Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity
22.09.2017 | DFG-Forschungszentrum für Regenerative Therapien TU Dresden
At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
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