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Gustatory responses to feeding‐ and non‐feeding‐stimulant chemicals, with an emphasis on amino acids, in rainbow trout

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Specific receptor and fibre types of rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss involved in the detection and discrimination of amino acids and a heterogeneous collection of compounds were investigated by recording the electrical activity of the maxillary branch of the facial nerve innervating taste buds inside the upper jaw. Proline (Pro), alanine (Ala), leucine (Leu), betaine (Bet) and 2‐amino‐3‐guanidinopropionic acid (Agp) were the major amino acids detected by the gustatory system. The two experimental approaches, concentration‐response curves and cross‐adaptations, showed that all amino acids were detected by three independent receptor types: Pro‐, Agp/Bet‐ and Leu‐receptors. Bile acids, the most potent stimulants recorded, were detected by a single receptor type independent of those for amino acids, with threshold concentrations of 10−12 M. Strychnine, quinine and tetrodotoxin may have partially shared a single receptor mechanism. The gustatory sensibility narrowly tuned towards the amino acid spectrum compared to those for a diverse array of non‐feeding stimulant chemicals, combined with feeding behaviour triggered primarily by vision and olfaction, suggest that in rainbow trout, and possibly other salmonid species, gustatory chemical cues, in addition to food finding and intake, play an important role in detecting poisonous prey and substances.

Keywords: amino acids; electrophysiology; gustation; rainbow trout; receptors

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: Canada Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Freshwater Institute, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3T 2N6 Canada,

Publication date: 2006-03-01

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