Agriculture
Making the most of a meal
Got Milk? How?
Cleaning Up Fish Farms
Amphibians
Newts
Salamanders
Tree Frogs
Animals
Poor Devils
A Spider's Taste for Blood
How to Silence a Cricket
Behavior
Honeybees do the wave
Listen and Learn
Brain cells take a break
Birds
Turkeys
Mockingbirds
Vultures
Chemistry and Materials
Spinning Clay into Cotton
Cooking Up Superhard Diamonds
The Incredible Shrunken Kids
Computers
Earth from the inside out
The Shape of the Internet
Look into My Eyes
Dinosaurs and Fossils
Dinosaurs Grow Up
The bug that may have killed a dinosaur
An Ancient Feathered Biplane
E Learning Jamaica
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
Earth
The Pacific Ocean's Bald Spot
Polar Ice Feels the Heat
Warmest Year on Record
Environment
Animal CSI or from Science Lab to Crime Lab
Sounds and Silence
Ready, unplug, drive
Finding the Past
Little People Cause Big Surprise
A Human Migration Fueled by Dung?
Sahara Cemetery
Fish
A Jellyfish's Blurry View
Basking Sharks
Tuna
Food and Nutrition
The Essence of Celery
Symbols from the Stone Age
Making good, brown fat
GSAT English Rules
Capitalization Rules
Whoever vs. Whomever
Who vs. That vs. Which
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
The Annual GSAT Scholarships
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
Mastering The GSAT Exam
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
GSAT Scholarship
Access denied - Disabled boy aces GSAT
42,000 students will sit for the GSAT Exam in two weeks
GSAT Mathematics
42,000 students will sit for the GSAT Exam in two weeks
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
Math of the World
Human Body
Dreaming makes perfect
A Long Trek to Asia
What the appendix is good for
Invertebrates
Butterflies
Daddy Long Legs
Krill
Mammals
Baboons
Manatees
Blue Whales
Parents
Children and Media
Raise a Lifelong Reader by Reading Aloud
How children learn
Physics
The Particle Zoo
Road Bumps
Echoes of a Stretched Egg
Plants
Getting the dirt on carbon
Stalking Plants by Scent
Nature's Alphabet
Reptiles
Snakes
Anacondas
Asp
Space and Astronomy
Black Holes That Burp
Ringing Saturn
Asteroid Moons
Technology and Engineering
Sugar Power for Cell Phones
Dancing with Robots
Algae Motors
The Parts of Speech
Problems with Prepositions
What is a Verb?
Countable and Uncountable Nouns
Transportation
Ready, unplug, drive
Seen on the Science Fair Scene
Robots on a Rocky Road
Weather
Watering the Air
Catching Some Rays
Arctic Melt
Add your Article

A Sour Taste in Your Mouth

Think of all the amazing things that your tongue does for you. Specialized cells on your tongue, for example, give you the power to enjoy (and gag at) the spices and other flavors of the world’s cuisines.

For years, scientists have been investigating the cells that allow us to detect five distinct tastes: salty, sweet, bitter, sour, and umami. Umami describes the taste of a substance called monosodium glutamate (MSG). So far, sweet, bitter, and umami are pretty well understood. The other two have remained mysterious.

Now, at long last, researchers may have discovered the secret behind the puckering flavor of lemons, vinegar, and sour gummy candy. One protein, called PKD2L1, might do the trick.

To decode the sour system, the scientists started by assuming that sour-sensing proteins would share basic traits with proteins that allow us to sense other tastes. In general, these molecules, called receptors, are embedded inside certain tongue cells.

Also, each tongue cell contains a receptor that senses just one type of flavor. One cell might have a sweet receptor, for instance, while another cell responds only to bitter flavors.

The scientists zeroed in on PKD2L1. This protein caught their eye because it appeared to be a specialized protein in taste bud cells. At the same time, it did not show up in cells that sensed sweet, bitter, or umami flavors.

The researchers then created a strain of mice that did not make the PKD2L1 protein. Tests of the animals’ nerves showed that the mice continued to respond to all flavors except sour ones. When the scientists gave them sour chemicals, such as citric acid or vinegar, nothing happened.

The mice “were completely insensitive, just like we were dabbing their tongues with water,” says research-team leader Charles S. Zuker of the University of California, San Diego.

The discovery may eventually help chemists make foods more or less sour, from the inside out.

Here’s what I’d like to know next: Why do some people like to eat sour candy? I’m not a fan, and I never will be, but I know people who love it. The mysteries of science never cease to amaze me!—E. Sohn

A Sour Taste in Your Mouth
A Sour Taste in Your Mouth








Designed and Powered by HBJamaica.com™