Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
FILE - In this Jan. 3, 2013 file photo a row of brewed coffee is seen in Oakland, Calif. Scientists have woken up and smelled the coffee _ and analyzed its DNA. They found that what we love about coffee _ the caffeine _ is a genetic quirk, not related to the caffeine in chocolate or tea.“It’s an accident that has been frozen in place very likely by the influence of natural selection,” says University of Buffalo evolutionary biologist Victor Albert. He and more than 60 other researchers from around the world mapped out genetic instruction book of java. Their results are published Thursday in the journal Science. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)
The buzz on caffeine in coffee: A genetic quirk
Study » Researchers say caffeine developed separately in the coffee, tea and chocolate.
First Published Sep 04 2014 04:55 pm • Last Updated Sep 04 2014 05:54 pm

Washington • Scientists have woken up and smelled the coffee — and analyzed its DNA.

They found that what we love about coffee — the caffeine — is a genetic quirk, not related to the caffeine in chocolate or tea.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

"It’s an accident that has been frozen in place very likely by the influence of natural selection," says University of Buffalo evolutionary biologist Victor Albert. He and more than 60 other researchers from around the world mapped out the genetic instruction book of java. Their results were published Thursday in the journal Science.

Albert says researchers discovered that caffeine developed separately in the coffee, tea and chocolate because it is in different genes in different areas of plants’ genomes.

But once coffee mutated to have caffeine — not just in the bean, there’s even more in the leaves — it turned out to be a good thing for the plant, Albert says. Bugs don’t chew on the coffee plant leaves because they don’t like the caffeine, but pollinators like bees do.

"So pollinators come back for more — just like we do for our cups of coffee," Albert says, admitting he also likes the buzz.

"It wakes me up every morning," Albert says. "I wouldn’t be able to do all this fabulous work on coffee if it weren’t for the coffee itself."

University of North Carolina plant genomics professor Jeff Dangl, who wasn’t part of the study, notes "natural selection to help coffee plants deter insects turned out so well for us." But he adds, "Unfortunately, coffee is now under epidemic attack by pathogens that are not deterred by caffeine, and we need all the clever genetics and genomics to save it."

The research will be presented next week at the 25th International Conference on Coffee Science in Colombia.




Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.