Skip to main content

Is Your Açaí Really from Amazon? Using DNA Barcoding to Authenticate Commercial Products

Abstract

Açaí is an Amazon superfruit with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties used in the preparation of energy drinks consumed mainly in Brazil and lately exported to the whole world. It is obtained from two palm species, Euterpe oleracea (mainly) and Euterpe precatoria (secondarily). However, it may be mistaken with the fruit of a non-Amazon sister species (Euterpe edulis), called juçara, due to its morphological similarities. As species identification is fundamental in the confirmation of commercial product authenticity, and most of the time the morphological identification is impossible, the molecular biology analysis represents a powerful method in food science. DNA barcoding, for example, represents an efficient method for detecting plant-based adulterants. In this study, we established a DNA barcoding method for discriminating the three Euterpe species, and it was successfully applied to authenticate açaí commercial products sold in the Brazilian market. After testing nine regions as DNA barcoding candidates in reference samples, psbK-I region was elected for the authentication method. As result, 88.6% of the samples were classified as authenticated and 11.4% were classified as adulterated products. Authenticated açaí products showed clustered with E. oleracea reference plants. Four adulterated açaí products showed clustered with E. edulis, a different species from the label. No products showed clustered with E. precatoria. These results bring us concern about the correct identification of species in food and about the occurrence of misleading advertising on labeled açaí products.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4

References

Download references

Acknowledgements

The authors are thankful to Marcia Flores da Silva Ferreira, Adésio Ferreira, Aléxia Gonçalves Pereira, José Aires Ventura, Luciana Ozório Franco, and members of the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden for their contribution with reference samples and Viviane Tavares for commercial products photographs. The authors acknowledge the Federal University of Espirito Santo for English editing and Graduate Program in Biotechnology of the Federal University of Espirito Santo.

Funding

This work was supported by the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) which provided research grants to RCF (grant number 303420/2016-2) and Rio de Janeiro Research Foundation (FAPERJ) (grant number E-26/202.778/2018). This study was financed in part by the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education and Graduate Training (CAPES)-Finance Code 001. The CAPES is acknowledged for the scholarship granted to FAN Almeida, J Luber, PV Oliveira, and PHD Santos.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Magda Delorence Lugon.

Ethics declarations

Ethics Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Consent to Participate

Not applicable.

Conflict of Interest

Magda Delorence Lugon declares that she has no conflict of interest. Pedro Henrique Dias dos Santos declares that he has no conflict of interest. Pablo Viana Oliveira declares that he has no conflict of interest. Francine Alves Nogueira de Almeida declares that she has no conflict of interest. Jaquelini Luber declares that she has no conflict of interest. Rafaela Campostrini Forzza declares that she has no conflict of interest. Mário Augusto Gonçalves Jardim declares that he has no conflict of interest. Greiciane Gaburro Paneto declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary Information

ESM 1

(DOCX 721 kb)

ESM 2

(DOCX 39 kb)

ESM 3

(DOCX 40 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Lugon, M.D., dos Santos, P.H.D., Oliveira, P.V. et al. Is Your Açaí Really from Amazon? Using DNA Barcoding to Authenticate Commercial Products. Food Anal. Methods 14, 1559–1566 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12161-021-01998-2

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12161-021-01998-2

Keywords

  • Euterpe
  • Authentication
  • Brazilian market
  • Species identification
  • psbK-I