Academic journal article Science and Children

Flies Prefer Fizz

Academic journal article Science and Children

Flies Prefer Fizz

Article excerpt

Fruit flies like a little seltzer in their drinks, according to researchers at the University of California (UC), Berkeley. The insect has specialized taste cells for carbonated water that probably encourage it to binge on food with growing microorganisms. Yeast and bacteria both produce carbon dioxide (C[O.sub.2]) when they feast, and C[O.sub.2] dissolves readily in water to produce seltzer or soda water.

The discovery is one of the first; if not the only, taste sensation finds in animals beyond the five that humans taste: sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and savory. The findings appeared in the journal Nature.

"This was unexpected because fruit flies also smell CO2, and they avoid it," says neurobiologist Kristin Scott, assistant professor of molecular and cell biology at UC Berkeley. "One way that we like to think of it is that flies seek the right amount of rottenness, if fruit is only half rotten, producing a little C[O. …

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