Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How animals sense potentially harmful acids

Date:
May 23, 2011
Source:
Rockefeller University Press
Summary:
All animals face the challenge of deciding which chemicals in the environment are useful and which are harmful. A new study greatly improves our understanding of how animals sense an important class of potentially harmful chemicals: weak acids.

All animals face the challenge of deciding which chemicals in the environment are useful and which are harmful. A new study greatly improves our understanding of how animals sense an important class of potentially harmful chemicals: weak acids. The study appears online on May 16 in the Journal of General Physiology.

Weak acids like acetic acid (vinegar) and propionic acid (present in fermented foods like Swiss cheese) are shunned by many animals, and with good reason. Many organic acids in the environment can have widespread detrimental effects. Humans ingest these substances despite the fact that they actually elicit "irritating" sensations, a physiological response that may have been vital for our ancestors' survival.

So what are the molecular sensors and mechanisms involved when animals detect these substances? Although researchers have identified sensors for many harmful chemicals, the mechanisms involved in the detection of weak acids have been a mystery. Now, University of Southern California researcher Emily Liman and colleagues identify the sensor as none other than the ion channel TRPA1. The authors show that TRPA1 responds to weak acids when they acidify the cytoplasm within the cell. Such cytoplasmic acidification can have very negative consequences -- even triggering cell death -- which explains why this process raises such alarm bells in animals.

Researchers have been surprised in recent years to discover how many different types of noxious stimuli can be sensed by TRPA1, explains Brandeis University's Paul Garrity in a Commentary accompanying the study. With this latest research, weak acids can be added to that growing list.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Rockefeller University Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Garrity, P.A. Weakly acidic, but strongly irritating: TRPA1 and the activation of nociceptors by cytoplasmic acidification. J. Gen. Physiol., 2011 DOI: 10.1085/jgp.201110657
  2. Yuanyuan Y. Wang, Rui B. Chang, Sallie D. Allgood, Wayne L. Silver and Emily R. Liman. A TRPA1-dependent mechanism for the pungent sensation of weak acids. J. Gen. Physiol., 2011 DOI: 10.1085/jgp.201110615

Cite This Page:

Rockefeller University Press. "How animals sense potentially harmful acids." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110516121415.htm>.
Rockefeller University Press. (2011, May 23). How animals sense potentially harmful acids. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110516121415.htm
Rockefeller University Press. "How animals sense potentially harmful acids." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110516121415.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) A new study published by the World Wide Fund for Nature found that more than half of the world's wildlife population has declined since 1970. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dolphins Might Use Earth's Magnetic Field As A GPS

Dolphins Might Use Earth's Magnetic Field As A GPS

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) A study released Monday suggests dolphins might be able to sense the Earth's magnetic field and possibly use it as a means of navigation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How To Battle Stink Bug Season

How To Battle Stink Bug Season

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) Homeowners in 33 states grapple with stink bugs moving indoors at this time of year. Here are a few tips to avoid stink bug infestations. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
California University Designs Sustainable Winery

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) Amid California's worst drought in decades, scientists at UC Davis design a sustainable winery that includes a water recycling system. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins