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Germaphobes beware! Fruit flies are better than humans at avoiding toxic food

Ross Cronkrite | Science Recorder | December 06, 2012

Germaphobes beware! Fruit flies are better than humans at avoiding toxic food

Researchers decode neural mechanisms allowing flies to avoid rotten food.

We all know that eating toxic foods can be lethal to humans and animals, as it gives bacterial pathogens a way to enter the digestive system and wreak havoc. We can use our sense of smell, however, to identify rotten food. Researchers have recently decoded the neural mechanisms behind a detection system for toxic foods in fruit flies, according to the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology. The neural mechanisms help the fruit flies determine which food is unsafe for consumption and their eggs.

Researchers explain that a highly-sensitive neural line is activated as soon as the smallest amount of geosmin is in the air. Geosmin is a substance released by bacteria and mold fungi that are dangerous to the fly. This signal becomes a warning that screams STOP! at the fly louder than all other signals.

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