Thursday, March 31, 2016

Citizen Scientists Help Unravel the Genetics of Taste

Researchers at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science are studying the genetics behind what shapes the way we taste food. In their Genetics of Taste Lab, scientists are conducting studies that help them understand our relationship with food. 200 citizen scientists have been collecting data from thousand of museum visitors form all over the sound. Citizen Scientist have been surveying people though taste test, collect general census information, and administered cheek swabs. From 2009-2013 citizen scientist conducted a "Bitter Taste Study" that focused how changed to a gene called TAS2R38 affects how people experience the taste "bitter". The scientists examined the role of fungiform papillae, which contains taste buds, on the tongue and if it relates to the sensitivity to a bitter taste called PROP. A second study was then conducted, known as the "Fatty Acid Taste Study". This study asked if humans recognize the flavor of fat the way they do with sweets. Data indicated that people do taste fat and also someones body fat does not predict their sensitivity to the flavor fat. A third study was conducted that focuses on the difference in how much people enjoy different sweet flavors and also how intensely they experience the flavors. The study ale will include the analysis of the bacteria present in the mouth.

Conducting a study of our relationship with food is good. I think this study and how they are going to conduct it will help in understanding why some people prefer different types of food. I think all three studies demonstrate good evidence to their overall study and will provide data that backs up their study questions. Who doesn't love food and why shouldn't we know the genetics behind taste and food preference. 

1 comment:

  1. I think this is a pretty good step that researchers are taking which can help the food industry. It could be a way to lead in gene-specific dieting strategies, as well as help to make more popular flavors in foods we already enjoy.