Detecting thresholds for bitter, umami, and sweet tastants in broiler chicken using a 2-choice test method

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The sense of taste has a key role in nutrient sensing and food intake in animals. A standardized and simple method for determination of tastant-detection thresholds is required for chemosensory research in poultry. We established a 24-h, 2-alternative, forced-choice solution-consumption method and applied it to measure detection thresholds for 3 G-protein-coupled receptor-mediated taste modalities—bitter, sweet, and umami—in chicken. Four parameters were used to determine a significant response: 1) tastant-solution consumption; 2) water (tasteless) consumption; 3) total consumption (tastant and water together); 4) ratio of tastant consumption to total consumption. Our results showed that assignment of the taste solutions and a water control to 2 bottles on random sides of the pen can be reliably used for broiler chicks, even though 47% of the chicks groups demonstrated a consistently preferred side. The detection thresholds for quinine (bitter), L-monosodium glutamate (MSG) (umami), and sucrose (sweet) were determined to be 0.3 mM, 300 mM, and 1 M, respectively. The threshold results for quinine were similar to those for humans and rodents, but the chicks were found to be less sensitive to sucrose and MSG. The described method is useful for studying detection thresholds for tastants that have the potential to affect feed and water consumption in chickens.

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