A question that has occupied scientists for centuries is “Do flies taste sweet?” The answer is a resounding “yes!” The results of a recent survey show that flies have the capacity to detect sweetness. The study also shows that the fruit fly can compare the taste of sweet and bitter substances.
One possible explanation is that flies have a sugar sensor called O-GlcNAc transferase (OGT). This enzyme is responsible for the sweetness that we experience in foods. It is also implicated in the development of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. In the current study, researchers altered the sugar sensor in flies that were put on a high-sugar diet. The manipulated flies did not become obese and continued to taste sweet food.
The Monell Center’s findings support this theory by revealing that fruit flies have taste receptors more similar to human taste buds than mice and rodents do. The results also show that flies respond positively to most human sweeteners, including aspartame. However, some monkeys and rodents do not perceive aspartame as sweet. These findings suggest that our environment plays a vital role in shaping our taste preferences.
In addition, the fruit fly has eight different sweet-tasting receptors. Although the exact function of each receptor has not been determined, researchers have determined that they all confer sensitivity to different sweet compounds. The study also revealed that each of these receptors is associated with different sets of gustatory receptor genes. The researchers found that each of these receptors had distinct combinations of taste receptors, which suggests that flies have an innate ability to distinguish between sweet and bitter compounds. This discovery could ultimately lead to the development of repellents that target insects’ sweet taste receptors.