A new taste

Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

It is time to add another taste to the sweet, salty, sour and bitter -- the glutamate. Scientists have discovered a molecular hook on the human tongue that grabs a substance that generates a taste.

It was first discovered by Japanese scientist Kikunae Ikeda in 1908, who isolated this substance from a sea weed and called the taste urami. The chemical glutamate is an amino acid and gives a distinct taste. Ninety years later, Nirupa Chaudhuri's team from the University of Miami School of Medicine, USA, found the receptors for glutamate. It is now all set to be added to the basic tastes. Glutamate is what gives a unique taste to protein-rich foods such as soy sauce and Marmite, the powerful yeast paste loved by Australians ( Nature Neuroscience , Vol 3, No 2).

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