The general theme of this research is to understand the basic sensory mechanisms that underlie human taste perception. The sense of taste is essential for identifying nutrients and avoiding poisons. Accordingly, taste percept has been categorized into five qualities: sweetness, the taste of simple carbohydrates, artificial sweeteners, and some sweet-tasting proteins/amino acids; saltiness, the taste of sodium salts; umami, the taste of amino acids, especially L-glutamate, and selected ribonucleic acids; sourness, the taste of acids; and bitterness, the taste of many toxic compounds. The idea of the five basic taste qualities, however, has recently been challenged by findings showing that a variety of other nutrients, such as hydrolysis products of fat and complex carbohydrates, can also be detected through the gustatory system.

The current goals of this research are 1) to investigate the role that the sense of taste plays in the detection of glucose oligomers (i.e., hydrolysis products of starch) and 2) to determine the structural characteristics of glucose oligomers that activate a hypothesized receptor(s).


Publications

  • Lapis T, Penner M, Lim J. Humans can taste glucose oligomers independent of the hT1R2/hT1R3 sweet taste receptor. Chemical Senses, Online available, 2016.
  • Balto A, Lapis T, Silver R, Ferreira D, Beaudry C, Lim J, Penner M. On the use of differential solubility in ethanol/water mixtures to narrow the DP range of food-grade starch hydrolysis products. Food Chemistry, 197: 872-880, 2016.
  • Lapis T, Penner M, Lim J. The evidence that humans can taste glucose polymers. Chemical Senses, 39: 737-747, 2014.