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Flavor research: the Perception of Sour Taste

Posted: July 25, 2007

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The finding that genes influence sour taste perception suggests that genetic analyses could potentially help identify sour receptors. Future studies will evaluate possible receptors by determining whether individual differences in genes for these structures—such as the recently-discovered PKD ion channel—are correlated with individual differences in sensitivity to sourness. For any given candidate receptor, a strong association of genetic with perceptual variation would support the likelihood that the receptor detects sour taste.

The findings, in conjunction with previous work on sweet, bitter, and umami (savory) taste, suggest that people differ in how they perceive the taste of foods, and that these differences are determined in part by their taste genes. So someone who inherited a high sensitivity to sour taste may find foods containing lemons or vinegar off-putting, whereas the same foods may be better accepted by a person whose genes make them less sensitive.

The researchers for this study were: Paul Wise, Danielle Reed and Paul Breslin of Monell and Jonathan Hansen from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Brisbane, Australia.

The full study was published in Chemical Senses online on July 10.