It’s appetizing news for anyone who’s ever wanted the savory taste of meats and cheeses without actually having to eat them: chemists have identified molecular mechanisms underlying the sensation of umami, also known as the fifth taste.
The umami receptor’s shape is similar to that of sweetness receptors, he said, and his team’s research could eventually suggest alternatives to sugar. But more work is needed to determine exactly what happens when signals are sent from tongue to brain.
“Molecular mechanism for the umami taste synergism” By Feng Zhang, Boris Klebansky, Richard M. Fine, Hong Xu, Alexey Pronin, Haitian Liu, Catherine Tachdjian and Xiaodong Li. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 106 No. 52, Dec. 30, 2008.
Via Wired, who didn’t link to the article, and so we won’t link to them.
“Science Behind Mysterious ‘Fifth Taste’ Revealed,” By Brandon Kim, Wired Science Blog, December 22, 2008.