Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Follow Your Nose: Odor code for food is based on a few volatile substances

25.06.2014

The actual flavor of a food is experienced through our sense of smell rather than with our tongue.

However, of the large number of volatile compounds in foods, only about 230 are involved in the scent, as reported by German scientists in the journal Angewandte Chemie. The different smells derive from characteristic combinations of three to forty of these odorants.

When we eat or drink, volatile substances pass through our mouth to our roughly 30 million olfactory cells. Special receptors bind to the odor molecules, resulting in an electrical signal that is transmitted to the brain. When we smell a mixture of several chemical components, multiple types of olfactory cells are activated. The nerve cells in the brain then produce a specific activation pattern in the form of a topographical “scent map”.

Thomas Hofmann and a team of scientists at the Technical University of Munich and the German Research Center for Food Chemistry (Leibniz Institute in Friesing-Weihenstephan) have now systematically combed through, analyzed, and statistically evaluated the available literature on odorants.

Their meta-analysis yielded an astonishing result: “Of the roughly 10,000 volatile compound that have so far been identified in foods, only about 230 act as genuine key odorants,” reports Hofmann, “and the typical scent of most if not all foods is produced by a characteristic ratio of only three to 40 of these compounds.” The scientists hypothesize that the natural odorant molecules in our food and our 400 or so odorant receptor proteins developed in concert through evolution.

The smell of a food is dependent on the right mixture of odorant molecules because combination results in entirely new smells. “For example, the combination of an odorant that smells of geraniums with one that smells of boiled potatoes generates the molecular basis for the fishy smell of boiled cod and sardines,” says Hofmann. “At a concentration ratio of 1:100, they lose their original odor character in favor of the fishy smell.”

Decoding all of the relevant odorants and olfactory receptors opens up interesting new possibilities for the production of biomimetic odor mixtures that could be used to authentically reconstruct natural odor signatures for food flavorings, perfumes, or olfactory accompaniment in movies, as well as in biomedical applications like the regulation of appetite and satiation.

Feelings of ravenous hunger could thus be suppressed with flavors that have the authentic odor profile of high-calorie foods. Knowing the odor code for crops and fruits could also be helpful in farming. Instead of breeding crops solely based on storage life – often at the cost of flavor – it should be possible to breed more flavorful varieties. Artificial noses based on biosensors could control food production or be useful in diagnostics.

About the Author

Prof. Hofmann is the Chair of Food Chemistry and Molecular Sensors at the Technische Universität München (TUM) and researches the chemistry and physiology of sensorically active biomolecules. Since 2009 he has been the Acting Vice President for Research and Innovation at TUM.

Author: Thomas Hofmann, Technische Universität München (Germany), http://www.molekulare-sensorik.de/

Title: Nature's Chemical Signatures in Human Olfaction: A Foodborne Perspective for Future Biotechnology

Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Permalink to the article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.201309508

Thomas Hofmann | Angewandte Chemie

Further reports about: characteristic combination crops mixture odor odorant olfactory smell substances volatile

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Could this protein protect people against coronary artery disease?
17.11.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care

nachricht Microbial resident enables beetles to feed on a leafy diet
17.11.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>