Source of insect buzz around beer identifiedNovember 20th, 2011 - 4:30 pm ICT by IANS
Washington, Nov 20 (IANS) Why do insects buzz around beer — because flies can sense glycerol, a sweet-tasting compound used in yeast fermentation.
“Insects use their taste system to glean important information about the quality and nutritive value of food sources,” said Anupama Dahanukar, researcher at the University of California, Riverside.
“Sugars signal high nutritive value to flies, but little is known about which chemical cues flies use for food sources that are low in sugar content - such as beer,” the journal Nature Neuroscience reported.
Dahanukar’s lab examined the feeding preference of the common fruit fly for beer and other products of yeast fermentation, a university statement said.
It found that a receptor (protein that serves as a gatekeeper) tied with neurons (brain and nerve cells) located in the fly’s mouth-parts is instrumental in signaling a good taste for beer.
The protein receptor, Gr64e, detects glycerol and transmits this information to the fly’s neurons influencing the response of the insect.
Dahanukar explained that flies use other receptors in their sensory organs to find food from a distance.
“Taste becomes important only after the fly makes physical contact with food,” she said.
“A fly first locates food sources using its odour receptors, crucial for its long-range attraction to food. Then, after landing on food, the fly uses its taste system to sample the food for suitability in terms of nutrition and toxicity,” she added.
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Tags: chemical cues, food sources, fruit fly, gatekeeper, glycerol, good taste, insect buzz, insects, journal nature, nerve cells, nutritive value of food, products of yeast fermentation, protein receptor, receptor protein, receptors, sensory organs, sugar content, sugars, taste system, university of california riverside