Plants have evolved a wide range of secondary metabolites that are sensory active in humans and other animal species, presumably to prevent or selectively direct predation. Humankind has been captivated by these materials for millennia, driving very early crop domestication as well as the age of discovery. In many cases, they have unique temporal properties that clearly distinguish them from the better studied chemical senses of smell and taste, and the words we use to describe them often, but not always, draw parallels with thermal sensations. Integrated, transdisciplinary approaches ranging from linguistics to molecular biology to psychophysics are required to fully characterize these materials, the mechanisms by which they act, and their place in our food supply. Oral pungency differs from prototypical taste percepts such as sweetness or bitterness in several critical ways, including the time course of the sensation, as well as sensitization, and desensitization.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)