Light from Maillard reaction: photon counting, emission spectrum, photography and visual perception.

G. Wondrak, T. Pier, R. Tressl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Several authors have reported on high-sensitivity measurement of oxygen-dependent low-level chemiluminescence (CL) from Maillard reactions (MR), i.e. nonenzymatic amino-carbonyl reactions between reducing sugars and amino acids (also referred to as nonenzymatic browning). Here we report for the first time, that light from Maillard reactions can be seen by the human eye and also can be photographed. In parallel with visual perception and photography CL was monitored by means of a CL-detection programme of a liquid scintillation counter (LSC, single photon rate counting). CL emission spectrum was recorded by a monochromator-microchannel plate photomultiplier arrangement. CL intensity from reaction of 6-aminocaproic acid with D-ribose (200 mg each) in 5 mL H2O at pH 11 at 95 degrees C was high enough for visual perception after adaptation to absolute darkness. Reaction in dimethylsulphoxide (DMSO) exhibited strongly enhanced CL (10 mg each in 5 mL were sufficient for visual detection) and could be photographed (15 minutes' exposure, ASA 6400); all characteristics of Maillard specific CL (O2-dependence, no CL from nonreducing sugars, inhibition by sulphur compounds) remained. Visual detection of CL and measurement by LSC were in full concordance. The CL emission spectrum showed two broad peaks at around 500 nm and 695 nm. Fluorescence emission of the brown reaction mixture matched the blue-green part of the CL emission spectrum. Emission of visible light during Maillard reactions may partly originate from oxygen-dependent generation of excited states and energy transfer to simultaneously formed fluorescent products of the browning reaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)277-284
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of bioluminescence and chemiluminescence
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)


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