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Behav Neurosci. 1999 Aug;113(4):840-54.

Contribution of different bitter-sensitive taste cells to feeding inhibition in a caterpillar (Manduca sexta).

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Department of Biological Science, Barnard College, Columbia University, New York, New York 10027, USA.


Many compounds that taste bitter to humans also inhibit feeding in insects. Caterpillars (e.g., Manduca sexta) detect these compounds with a few bitter-sensitive taste cells. This study examined the role of these taste cells in feeding inhibition. Behavioral studies demonstrated that 3 bitter compounds (caffeine, salicin, and aristolochic acid) all inhibited feeding rapidly in Manduca sexta. Electrophysiological studies revealed that each pair of bitter-sensitive taste cell differs in responsiveness to the bitter compounds. Ablation studies indicated that (a) those pairs of bitter-sensitive taste cells that responded vigorously to a particular bitter compound were sufficient to inhibit feeding on diets containing the same compound, but that (b) no pair of bitter-sensitive taste cells was necessary for inhibiting feeding. Thus, the different pairs of bitter-sensitive taste cells appear to make partially redundant contributions to feeding inhibition.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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