View Full Version : The Genetics of Taste

23-11-18, 15:12
Razib Khan takes a look at the literature.

An overall review:

Genetic variation in putative salt taste receptors and salt taste perception in humans (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23118204)

Umami: Nonsynonymous single nucleotide polymorphisms in human tas1r1, tas1r3, and mGluR1 and individual taste sensitivity to glutamate (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19571223)

Here’s a paper with sweet: The Relationship between Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms in Taste Receptor Genes, Taste Function and Dietary Intake in Preschool-Aged Children and Adults in the Guelph Family Health Study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30060620)

Bitter taste:

Bitter taste receptor research comes of age: from characterization to modulation of TAS2Rs
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22947915 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22947915)

Global diversity in the TAS2R38 bitter taste receptor: revisiting a classic evolutionary PROPosal (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4853779/)

23andme tells you whether you are probably a "supertaster" or not, which means someone who finds certain compounds very bitter. Interestingly, it's a recessive trait, so you need both alleles to be a supertaster. Also interesting, it's a trait which seems to be spread all over the world, which, as Khan points out is helpful in terms of evolution. It alerts people to possibly poisonous substances, but on the other hand some people will be able to eat the foods and get valuable nutrients, so it's a balance.

The food Khan chose for discussing it was brussels sprouts, a food I avoid at all costs, which also makes sense given I'm probably a super-taster. I also don't like high cocoa or dark chocolate, and I'm not really crazy about coffee, other than cappuccino, although I drink it for social reasons and the caffeine boost. The only "bitter" food I can think of off-hand that I like are olives, but perhaps I "learned" to like them because they're ubiquitous in Italian cuisine.

Given the "over" sweetness of American food (for my taste), the majority of the people who settled it (Northern Europeans) must be genetically primed to favor it. Give me salty and savory any time.