We can learn a lot about the complexity of food from fruit flies. When bitter compounds are added, most animals are deterred from eating it though they are attracted to sugar like these tiny creatures.
A new study conducted by UC Santa Barbara's Craig Montell, Duggan Professor of Neuroscience in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, explains a breakthrough in understanding how sensory input impacts fruit flies' decisions about sweet taste. The findings were published today in the journal Neuron
It is generally well known that the addition of bitter compounds inhibits attraction to sugars. However, until now the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying an important aspect of this ubiquitous animal behavior were poorly understood.
When animals encounter bitterness in foods, two factors cause them to stop eating. First, bitter compounds bind to proteins called bitter gustatory receptors (GRs), which inhibits feeding. The second -- and more elusive -- factor involves inhibition of the sugar response. This is the focus of Montell's research.