05 November 2013
The next time you reach for a cream cake or bag of crisps you can rest assured that humans aren’t the only animals who enjoy a greasy treat. In addition to sensing sweet, bitter and salt, fruit flies can taste fatty acids [the building blocks of fats] and when given an oily option they are happy to tuck in. Fruit flies have taste receptors on bristles all over their body and when they sense fatty acids this message is processed in the same part of their brain (highlighted in green) as their favourite food, sugar. While a taste for fat might not be great for our waistlines, it’s evolved as an important survival strategy for both humans and fruit flies. Lipids [fats] have more calories per gram than proteins or carbohydrates and some dietary fat is essential to keep brains, hearts and eyes functioning normally.
Written by Sarah McLusky
Image by Pavel Masek and Alex Keene
University of Nevada, Reno
Originally published under a Creative Commons Attribution license
Research published in PLOS Genetics, September 2013