Recently, American researchers have published research that presents a brand new flavor. The sixth possible taste following umami could be caused by ammonium chloride in our tongues.
A taste that is linked to an established reaction
There are five primary flavors: the acidic, salty sweet, the acidic, the bitter, and the umami, also popularly known as a “flavored” flavor. Is there an additional flavor? In the past two failed studies, researchers tried to make a splash with flavors that they believed could turn into fundamental flavors: the taste of fruit as well as the flavor of fat.
On October 5, 2023, a study released by the publication Nature Communications suggested another possible new taste. This study, conducted by researchers from the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles (United States), may be able to achieve its goal of adding a sixth essential taste to the existing menu.
The authors pointed out that the reaction between the tongue and ammonium chloride was well known. However, the reaction was not thought of as a fully-fledged flavor. However, the tongue is able to detect this reaction due in part to the activation of channel OTOP1. Researchers found that the receptor for the OTOP1 protein, which was previously associated with sour taste, has been activated by ammonium chloride.
A capacity that evolved from evolution
According to researchers, this ability to detect ammonium chloride’s flavor isn’t a random occurrence and is the outcome of evolution. It may be even a matter of survival. In reality, recognizing this flavor could prevent you from swallowing certain toxic substances. In particular, it’s predominantly about waste with an excessive amount of ammonia, like fertilizers, agricultural waste, or water. In addition, scientists have pointed out the possibility that certain animal languages, including the human language, are able to detect this flavor.
They plan to carry on their research to determine if ammonium sensitivity is present in other members of the OTOP family of proteins that different parts of the body exhibit, such as digestion. Ammonium chloride has been selected as a possible molecule to be included in the list of flavor bases. This list may be extended further because there are other possible candidates, including carbon dioxide, calcium, or water.