Research suggests that humans can detect the taste of fatty acids, but how this occurs is not known. To look into this question, the community-based Genetics of Taste Lab at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science will open a new research study for public participation. Using an omega-6 essential fatty acid (linoleic acid), the Lab will examine both genetic and environmental factors that might contribute to the ability to taste this important nutrient.

The focus for this study will be to learn more about people’s ability to taste fatty acids. Findings from the study will contribute new insights into the possibility that there are more than just the five known tastes of sweet, sour, salty, umami (savory), and bitter.

The study’s goal is to enroll 3,000 museum guests over the course of two years. Over the thirty-forty minute experience, participants will rate and describe a series of dissolvable taste strips, answer questions about themselves related to taste, and list how everyone is related (genetically or not) in their group.