Flies Possess Same Palate as Humans

That shortcake is as tasty to the bug as it is to the man

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MONDAY, July 5, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- That fly on your strawberry shortcake may be enjoying that delicious berry flavor in much the same way as you.

That's because food tastes the same to both flies and humans, according to University of California, Berkeley, scientists who did the first detailed genetic study of fly taste receptors.

The study found that, like humans, fruit flies have receptors devoted to sweet and bitter tastes. But there's a big difference in the location of those receptors.

Our taste receptors are limited to the tongue. Flies have taste receptors on bristles located all over the body, including the legs, wings, the food-sucking proboscis, and even the egg-laying ovipositor. It would seem that flies get a full-bodied taste experience.

"Taste neurons basically tell the fly whether food is good or bad or eat. It's pretty amazing that after hundreds of millions of years of evolution, flies and humans still use the same logic for taste detection," researcher Kristin Scott, an assistant professor of molecular and cell biology, said in a prepared statement.

The study appears in the June 24 issue of Cell.

More information

The Nemours Foundation serves up information about taste buds.

SOURCE: University of California, Berkeley, news release, June 24, 2004

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