Search Menu
Photonics Media Photonics Marketplace Photonics Spectra BioPhotonics EuroPhotonics Vision Spectra Photonics Showcase Photonics ProdSpec Photonics Handbook

Deconstructing Garlic

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Email Comments
Some people like to eat garlic, some don’t, but most of us don’t know what makes the pungent bulb repel or attract. Now scientists led by Ardem Patapoutian of The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., and Novartis Research Foundation in San Diego have published research in the May 24 issue of Current Biology that tells exactly how compounds in the herb activate sensory responses in the mouth.


They used a fluorometric imaging plate reader to perform calcium-imaging experiments to pinpoint allicin as the substance in cut or crushed raw garlic that trips protein thermoreceptors, causing sensations of heat or prickling. These receptors are akin to those that react to “hot” and “cold” components in chili peppers, mustard, cinnamon, wintergreen and peppermint. Cooked or roasted garlic tastes milder because heat tames the compound, converting it to less-potent sulfides.

The researchers believe that garlic evolved the allicin reaction to make it less palatable to animal foragers, although many humans have acclimated their taste buds to appreciate the stinky stuff.

It still remains to be explained why the bulbous herb, even unpeeled, produces such a negative response in vampires.

Photonics Spectra
Aug 2005
fluorometric imaging plategarlicLighter SideNovartis Research FoundationSensors & DetectorsThe Scripps Research Institute

back to top
Facebook Twitter Instagram LinkedIn YouTube RSS
©2020 Photonics Media, 100 West St., Pittsfield, MA, 01201 USA, [email protected]

Photonics Media, Laurin Publishing
x Subscribe to Photonics Spectra magazine - FREE!
We use cookies to improve user experience and analyze our website traffic as stated in our Privacy Policy. By using this website, you agree to the use of cookies unless you have disabled them.