Study reveals caramel taste receptor

A study conducted by the Leibniz Institute for Food Systems Biology at the Technical University of Munich analyzed substances that specifically activate candy catcher and completely different smells.

The basis of the research was to better understand how Molecular coding of food taste. Among the substances studied, the researchers had:

  1. Furaneol. A natural fragrance that is found in many fruits, such as strawberries, also in coffee, bread or in the aroma of caramel. In addition, it is used as a means of improving the taste in the preparation of various dishes. Human beings have 400 different types of olfactory receptors and until now it was not known which one was responsible for the perception of this type of smell.
  2. homofuranol. It is an odorant structurally similar to furaneol. It has a candy-like aroma, and the receptor they identified, OR5M3, has a very specific spectrum for recognizing food ingredients that smell like candy.

Olfactory receptors on the test

Despite intensive research, scientists have discovered the functions of approximately 20% of human olfactory receptors. Although there is still a long way to go in understanding the complex interactions between approximately 230 key food-related odorants and human olfactory receptors, this is just the beginning.

In order to elucidate these recognition spectra, the team led by Dietmar Krautwurst uses a collection of all genes from olfactory receptors People. And its most common genetic variants to decipher its function using a test cell system.

“The testing system we developed is unique in the world. We genetically modified the test cells to act as small odor biosensors. By doing this, we determine exactly which type of odor receptor they present on the surface of their cells,” explains Krautwurst.

2 scents for one receiver

As the results show, furanol only activated smell receptor OR5M3. “Even one thousandth of a gram of odor per liter is enough to generate a signal,” says the first author of the study, Franziska Haag.

In addition, the team investigated whether the receptor also responds to other odors. For this purpose, the team examined 186 other key odorants that play an important role in shaping the aroma of food.

However, of these, only homofuranol was able to significantly activate the receptor. This fragrance is structurally closely related to furaneol. As shown in previous LSB studies, it imparts a candy-like aroma to fruits such as durian.

Leibniz Institute Director Veronika Somoza notes that they will continue to “use our extensive collections of odorants and receptors at the Institute to help elucidate the molecular basis of human olfactory perception.”

After all, it significantly affects the choice of food, and thus health. In the study, scientists examined a total of 391 types of human smell receptors and 225 of their most common variants.

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