The evolution of the chemical senses has resulted in a sensory apparatus for high taste and smell acuity in mammals and birds to ensure self-nourishment. Such peripheral chemosensory systems function as a code to unfold the nutritional value of feedstuffs. Food ingestion simultaneously evokes odor, taste and thermo-mechanical (somatosensing) sensations. Olfaction represents the capacity to identify feed volatiles that are predominantly derived from essential nutrients in plants. Comparative biology of olfaction shows that primates and chickens have a smaller olfactory epithelium and fewer olfactory receptor (OR) genes than non-primate mammals studied to date including farm and companion animals, such as the pig, the cow, the dog, the cat and the horse. A significant proportion of the total OR genes in mammals and birds have lost their functionality (pseudogenes) in a process that seems to reflect a decrease in the animal’s reliance on the sense of smell, particularly in humans and cows. The taste system allows animals to recognize a diverse repertoire of nutrient (sugars, amino acids, salts, acids and fats) or toxic related chemical entities that provide valuable information about the quality of food. Taste senses non-volatile molecules in the oral cavity through taste receptors (TR). The TR are expressed in the sensory cells forming the taste buds of the tongue’s papillae. Taste cells are linked to a network of solitary chemosensory cells diffused through many non-taste tissues involved in metabolic homeostasis. The number of functional taste receptor genes (TASR) in humans is equivalent to that in other mammals and superior to that in chickens. The TASRfamily 1 (TAS1R coding for umami and sweet TR) is conserved, in number and type, across the species evaluated, with the exception of the sweet receptor in chicken and feline species. TheTASR family 2 (TAS2R coding for bitter TR) shows a strong adaptive capacity to dietary sources and digestive physiology across vertebrates. Pseudogenization (loss of gene functionality) in theTAS2R family seems to be a frequent strategy. The implications of oronasal nutrient sensing related to comparative animal feeding strategies and behaviors such as neophobia, feed refusal and hedonic preferences are discussed. Feed palatability and appetence might be one of the main driving forces in short-term feed consumption. Finally, practical applications relevant to animal production are outlined.
Autores: Roura, E., Humphrey, B., Tedó, G. and Ipharraguerre, I.R.
Libro/Revista: Canadian Journal of Animal Science, 2008, 88(4): 535-558