Stretching elastic tissues and using their recoil to power movement allows organisms to release energy more rapidly than by muscle contraction directly, thus amplifying power output. Chameleons employ such a mechanism to ballistically project their tongue up to two body lengths, achieving power outputs nearly three times greater than those possible via muscle contraction. Additionally, small organisms tend to be capable of greater performance than larger species performing similar movements. To test the hypothesis that small chameleon species outperform larger species during ballistic tongue projection, performance was examined during feeding among 20 chameleon species in nine genera. This revealed that small species project their tongues proportionately further than large species, achieving projection distances of 2.5 body lengths. Furthermore, feedings with peak accelerations of 2,590 m s(-2), or 264 g, and peak power output values of 14,040 W kg(-1) are reported. These values represent the highest accelerations and power outputs reported for any amniote movement, highlighting the previously underestimated performance capability of the family. These findings show that examining movements in smaller animals may expose movements harbouring cryptic power amplification mechanisms and illustrate how varying metabolic demands may help drive morphological evolution.
Considerable mechanistic data indicate there may be a sixth basic taste: fat. However, evidence demonstrating that the sensation of nonesterified fatty acids (NEFA, the proposed stimuli for “fat taste”) differs qualitatively from other tastes is lacking. Using perceptual mapping, we demonstrate that medium and long-chain NEFA have a taste sensation that is distinct from other basic tastes (sweet, sour, salty, and bitter). Although some overlap was observed between these NEFA and umami taste, this overlap is likely due to unfamiliarity with umami sensations rather than true similarity. Shorter chain fatty acids stimulate a sensation similar to sour, but as chain length increases this sensation changes. Fat taste oral signaling, and the different signals caused by different alkyl chain lengths, may hold implications for food product development, clinical practice, and public health policy.
Despite evidence that the ability to taste is weakened by obesity and can be rescued with weight loss intervention, few studies have investigated the molecular effects of obesity on the taste system. Taste bud cells undergo continual turnover even in adulthood, exhibiting an average life span of only a few weeks, tightly controlled by a balance of proliferation and cell death. Recent data reveal that an acute inflammation event can alter this balance. We demonstrate that chronic low-grade inflammation brought on by obesity reduces the number of taste buds in gustatory tissues of mice-and is likely the cause of taste dysfunction seen in obese populations-by upsetting this balance of renewal and cell death.
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
- Published almost 5 years ago
The influence of speech production on speech perception is well established in adults. However, because adults have a long history of both perceiving and producing speech, the extent to which the perception-production linkage is due to experience is unknown. We addressed this issue by asking whether articulatory configurations can influence infants' speech perception performance. To eliminate influences from specific linguistic experience, we studied preverbal, 6-mo-old infants and tested the discrimination of a nonnative, and hence never-before-experienced, speech sound distinction. In three experimental studies, we used teething toys to control the position and movement of the tongue tip while the infants listened to the speech sounds. Using ultrasound imaging technology, we verified that the teething toys consistently and effectively constrained the movement and positioning of infants' tongues. With a looking-time procedure, we found that temporarily restraining infants' articulators impeded their discrimination of a nonnative consonant contrast but only when the relevant articulator was selectively restrained to prevent the movements associated with producing those sounds. Our results provide striking evidence that even before infants speak their first words and without specific listening experience, sensorimotor information from the articulators influences speech perception. These results transform theories of speech perception by suggesting that even at the initial stages of development, oral-motor movements influence speech sound discrimination. Moreover, an experimentally induced “impairment” in articulator movement can compromise speech perception performance, raising the question of whether long-term oral-motor impairments may impact perceptual development.
In chickens, the sensory organs for taste are the taste buds in the oral cavity, of which there are ~240-360 in total number as estimated by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). There is not an easy way to visualize all taste buds in chickens. Here, we report a highly efficient method for labeling chicken taste buds in oral epithelial sheets using the molecular markers Vimentin and α-Gustducin. Immediate tissue fixation following incubation with sub-epithelially injected proteases enabled us to peel off whole epithelial sheets, leaving the shape and integrity of the tissue intact. In the peeled epithelial sheets, taste buds labeled with antibodies against Vimentin and α-Gustducin were easily identified and counted under a light microscope and many more taste buds, patterned in rosette-like clusters, were found than previously reported with SEM. Broiler-type, female-line males have more taste buds than other groups and continue to increase the number of taste buds over stages after hatch. In addition to ovoid-shaped taste buds, big tube-shaped taste buds were observed in the chicken using 2-photon microscopy. Our protocol for labeling taste buds with molecular markers will factilitate future mechanistic studies on the development of chicken taste buds in association with their feeding behaviors.
Domestic cats (felis catus) have a reputation for being rather unpredictable in their dietary choices. While their appetite for protein or savory flavors is consistent with their nutritional needs, their preference among protein-sufficient dietary options may relate to differences in the response to other flavor characteristics. Studies of domestic cat taste perception are limited, in part, due to the lack of receptor sequence information. Several studies have described the phylogenetic relationship of specific cat taste receptor sequences as compared with other carnivores. For example, domestic cats are obligate carnivores and their receptor Tas1r2, associated with the human perception of sweet, is present only as a pseudogene. Similarly, the cat perception of bitter may differ from that of other mammals due to variations in their repertoire of bitter receptor (Tas2r) genes. This report includes the first functional characterization of domestic cat taste receptors.
In mammals, the sense of taste helps in the evaluation and consumption of nutrients, and in avoiding toxic substances and indigestible materials. Distinct cell types expressing unique receptors detect each of the five basic tastes: salt, sour, bitter, sweet and umami. The latter three tastes are detected by two distinct families of G protein-coupled receptors: T2Rs and T1Rs. Interestingly, these taste receptors have been found in tissues other than the tongue, such as the digestive system, respiratory system, brain, testis and spermatozoa. The functional implications of taste receptor distributed throughout the body are unknown. We therefore reviewed the remarkable advances in our understanding of the molecular basis of taste perception in ‘taste’ and ‘non-taste’ tissues. We also present our speculations on the direction of further research in the field of male reproduction.
- Journal of experimental psychology. Human perception and performance
- Published over 5 years ago
Our sense of taste can be influenced by our other senses, with several groups having explored the effects of olfactory, visual, or tactile stimulation on what we perceive as taste. Research into multisensory, or crossmodal perception has rarely linked our sense of taste with that of audition. In our study, 48 participants in a crossover experiment sampled multiple concentrations of solutions of 5 prototypic tastants, during conditions with or without broad spectrum auditory stimulation, simulating that of airline cabin noise. Airline cabins are an unusual environment, in which food is consumed routinely under extreme noise conditions, often over 85 dB, and in which the perceived quality of food is often criticized. Participants rated the intensity of solutions representing varying concentrations of the 5 basic tastes on the general Labeled Magnitude Scale. No difference in intensity ratings was evident between the control and sound condition for salty, sour, or bitter tastes. Likewise, panelists did not perform differently during sound conditions when rating tactile, visual, or auditory stimulation, or in reaction time tests. Interestingly, sweet taste intensity was rated progressively lower, whereas the perception of umami taste was augmented during the experimental sound condition, to a progressively greater degree with increasing concentration. We postulate that this effect arises from mechanostimulation of the chorda tympani nerve, which transits directly across the tympanic membrane of the middle ear. (PsycINFO Database Record
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
- Published almost 5 years ago
Teeth and taste buds are iteratively patterned structures that line the oro-pharynx of vertebrates. Biologists do not fully understand how teeth and taste buds develop from undifferentiated epithelium or how variation in organ density is regulated. These organs are typically studied independently because of their separate anatomical location in mammals: teeth on the jaw margin and taste buds on the tongue. However, in many aquatic animals like bony fishes, teeth and taste buds are colocalized one next to the other. Using genetic mapping in cichlid fishes, we identified shared loci controlling a positive correlation between tooth and taste bud densities. Genome intervals contained candidate genes expressed in tooth and taste bud fields. sfrp5 and bmper, notable for roles in Wingless (Wnt) and bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling, were differentially expressed across cichlid species with divergent tooth and taste bud density, and were expressed in the development of both organs in mice. Synexpression analysis and chemical manipulation of Wnt, BMP, and Hedgehog (Hh) pathways suggest that a common cichlid oral lamina is competent to form teeth or taste buds. Wnt signaling couples tooth and taste bud density and BMP and Hh mediate distinct organ identity. Synthesizing data from fish and mouse, we suggest that the Wnt-BMP-Hh regulatory hierarchy that configures teeth and taste buds on mammalian jaws and tongues may be an evolutionary remnant inherited from ancestors wherein these organs were copatterned from common epithelium.
Until recently, reliable markers for adult stem cells have been lacking for many regenerative mammalian tissues. Lgr5 (leucine-rich repeat-containing G-protein coupled receptor 5) has been identified as a marker for adult stem cells in intestine, stomach, and hair follicle; Lgr5-expressing cells give rise to all types of cells in these tissues. Taste epithelium also regenerates constantly, yet the identity of adult taste stem cells remains elusive. In this study, we found that Lgr5 is strongly expressed in cells at the bottom of trench areas at the base of circumvallate and foliate taste papillae and weakly expressed in the basal area of taste buds and that Lgr5-expressing cells in posterior tongue are a subset of K14-positive epithelial cells. Lineage-tracing experiments using an inducible Cre knock-in allele in combination with Rosa26-LacZ and Rosa26-tdTomato reporter strains showed that Lgr5-expressing cells gave rise to taste cells, perigemmal cells, along with self-renewing cells at the bottom of trench areas at the base of circumvallate and foliate papillae. Moreover, using subtype-specific taste markers, we found that Lgr5-expressing cell progeny include all three major types of adult taste cells. Our results indicate that Lgr5 may mark adult taste stem or progenitor cells in the posterior portion of the tongue.