Responses of single chorda tympani taste fibers of the calf (bos taurus)

Goran B Hellekant, Thomas Roberts, Donald Elmer, Tiffany Cragin, Vicktoria Danilova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


In spite of a wealth of information on feed and nutrition in cattle, there little is published of what they actually can taste. Here, we attempt to remedy some of this deficiency by presenting recordings of the chorda tympani proper nerve of young Holstein calves during stimulation of approximately 30 compounds. Hierarchical cluster analysis of 46 single taste fibers separated 4 fiber clusters: N (salt best), H (sour best), and 2 clusters, which could not be related to any human taste quality. The N fibers responded best to LiCl, NaCl, urea, monosodium glutamate, and KCl, whereas the H fibers responded strongly to citric and ascorbic acid. Interestingly, propionic and butyric acid stimulated best the 3rd cluster, whereas the 4th cluster responded best to denatonium benzoate and only to a small extent to quinine hydrochloride. Sweeteners stimulated moderately all clusters. Beginning with the largest response to sweet, the order between the responses was: acesulfame-K, saccharin, D- phenylalanine, glycine, sucrose, fructose, erythritol, cyclamate, and lactose. Alitame, aspartame, and super-aspartame evoked no or little responses. Three and 5 M ethanol stimulated all clusters. Comparison with taste fibers in other species suggests that the taste world of cattle is quite different from other species'.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-394
Number of pages12
JournalChemical Senses
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 8 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by grant [R01 DC006016] from the National Institutes of Health and Duluth Medical Research Institute to G.H..


  • Cattle
  • Chorda tympani
  • Coding
  • Electrophysiology
  • Single fibers
  • Taste


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