Scientists have discovered a new taste bud on the tongue that can detect different flavours.

Now we know that the known taste bud cells on the tongue can only register a specific taste, either bitter, sweet and unami; or sour and salty.

But the newly-discovered versatile cells are able to spot sweet, sour, umami and bitter tastes, an unheard-of level of variety.

How we taste what we eat is because of the collective experience created by the three types of taste bud on the tongue.

Type I cells acts as support cells; Type II cells detect bitter, sweet and umami tastes; and Type III cells detect sour and salty flavors.

But studies on mice at the University of Buffalo in the US reveal a previously unknown subset of Type III cells which are ‘broadly responsive’ to all flavours.

These cells have two different signalling pathways which allow them to respond to sourness one way and sweet, bitter and umami stimuli using another.

Scientists are not yet able to tell their contribution to the sense of taste, but they hypothesize them to be very significant.

Their discovery provides new insight into how taste information is sent to the brain for processing, and suggests that taste buds are far more complex than we currently appreciate.

The research was published in the journal PLOS Genetics. 

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here