Can A Fruit Fly Detect Rotten Fruit Better Than A Human


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A recent study Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology tested why flies could detect rotten food better. What they came to realize was that it was the flies sensors that allowed it to detect the rotten food. The geosmin on the rotten fruit are what allowed the flies to detect the rotten fruit. There are certain neurons in the feelers of the fly that allow it to better detect the rotten food. To humans the geosmin is what releases the smell of wet soil that rotten food often has. The only problem with this is that often times other scents can cover up this smell.

This has a very practical use in daily life, in Germany in 2011 multiple people died from eating rotten food. Having this research can allow us to better protect ourselves against bad produce. Better understanding how rotten food infects us is the first step to creating a way to prevent the eating of bad food. The other benefit of this experiment is that they have identified what allows the fly to recognize the bad food. The next step is to adapt this so that humans can use it to recognize the bad food. More experiments are needed in order to use this to help humans, but until then if the food smells funky do not eat it.



2 Comments

Why did these people die? Was it solely form the rotten food or was there something more to their deaths? I find it hard to believe that they would die due to just rotten food. The food would have to be extremely rotten and at that point I would expect for a person to see the "green growth" on their food. As a species we are able to filter out some things that are rotten without many issues (such as Gorgonzola/blue cheese). However, I did look for food safety suggestions after reading your post and turned up this article: http://www.food-safety-and-you.com/GroceryStoreFoodSafety.html . It looks helpful for the average grocery store shopper and might come in handy to you.

I believe that is depends on the circumstances.Some people may be very desperate for food and have eaten rotten food in order to survive, but the article did not go into much detail of the deaths. Working at a grocery store over the summer I can see how many precautions are taken towards people food. The produce people were always changing some product to allow for newer fresher products. My advice to shoppers is that if the food looks good, and the store is generally clean then you are probably safe.

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