Glutamate: from discovery as a food flavor to role as a basic taste (umami)

Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Sep;90(3):719S-722S. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.27462D. Epub 2009 Jul 29.


In 1908 Kikunae Ikeda identified the unique taste component of konbu (kelp) as the salt of glutamic acid and coined the term umami to describe this taste. After Ikeda's discovery, other umami taste substances, such as inosinate and guanylate, were identified. Over the past several decades, the properties of these umami substances have been characterized. Recently, umami has been shown to be the fifth basic taste, in addition to sweet, sour, salty, and bitter.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Food Analysis*
  • Glutamic Acid / analysis
  • Glutamic Acid / history*
  • Guanosine Monophosphate / analysis
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Inosine Monophosphate / analysis
  • Kelp / chemistry
  • Taste*
  • Tokyo


  • Inosine Monophosphate
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Guanosine Monophosphate