Two scientific groups tasted victory this week in a race to identify a candidate gene for controlling our proverbial sweet tooth. The two teams pulled ahead of several others scrambling to describe the genetic basis of sweet-taste perception
"It's been a kind of dogfight," says Danielle R. Reed, a behavioral geneticist on a team at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. By reporting their
work simultaneously in the May Nature Genetics and the May Nature Neurobiology,
two Howard Hughes Medical Institute labs–one at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in
New York and the other at Harvard Medical School in Boston–squeaked by Reed's team
and several others.
The tongue distinguishes only five basic flavors: sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and
umami, the taste associated with monosodium glutamate. Unveiling how tongue cells