The sense of taste is essential to identify the nutrients that our bodies require. Taste and can also convey intense pleasure during meals. Taste is mediated by taste buds that reside in structures called taste papillae on the tongue. To understand how taste sensitivity develops and is controlled, we study development of the taste papilla structures that emerge in the embryo. This photograph illustrates large mounded structures, early developing taste papillae (fungiform papillae to be precise) in a tongue organ culture system from a rat embryo. The organ culture is useful because it allows us to watch papilla development in vitro, so that molecules can be added or subtracted to understand how papilla formation is regulated.
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