Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw’s®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 15 No. 1 • January-February 2012

Multiple Choice Test for Fruit Flies Shows Similar Responses to Bitter Tastes as Humans

An amusing paper1 reports on a multiple choice test where fruit flies got to choose the desirability to them of sugar mixed with various amounts of bitter substances. The more bitter the mixture, the less the flies consumed of it. Thus, the flies exhibited marked dose-dependent aversions to the consumption of bitter substances, much as humans generally do, which included berberine, lobeline, nicotine, papaverine, strychnine, and theophylline. Apparently there is an evolutionarily conserved aversion to eating foods that are more likely to be poisonous based on their having a bitter taste. To wit, we are sorta like flies or maybe they are sorta like us. Cute, but one has to wonder whether taxpayers were ripped off to fund this.


  1. Sellier et al. Consumption of bitter alkaloids in Drosophila melanogaster in multiple-choice test conditions. Chem Senses 36(4):323-334 (2011)

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