Nature embarks on a tasty adventure through the Silk Road, to understand how genes shape people’s love for foods.
Over the past two decades, researchers have identified receptors on the tongue for sweet, umami ‘savoury’, bitter, sour and salty.
They have realized that the sensation of flavour is created when signals from these receptors are integrated in the brain with food-related signals from the hundreds of odorant receptors in the nose and nasal passages. But understanding why people prefer certain foods is still a major scientific puzzle.
The Silk Road expedition — officially called Marco Polo, gave Gasparini, a medical geneticist at the University of Trieste, Italy and his team a unique opportunity to identify genetic influences on food preference by studying isolated populations, in which such variants are relatively easy to find.
Read the full article: Science on the Silk Road: Taste for adventure by Alison Abbott.

Inga Yandell
Explorer and media producer, passionate about nature, culture and travel. Combining science and conservation with investigative journalism to provide resources and opportunities for creative exploration.