Do Gut Microbes Taste?

Nutrients. 2021 Jul 27;13(8):2581. doi: 10.3390/nu13082581.


Gut microbiota has emerged as a major metabolically active organ with critical functions in both health and disease. The trillions of microorganisms hosted by the gastrointestinal tract are involved in numerous physiological and metabolic processes including modulation of appetite and regulation of energy in the host spanning from periphery to the brain. Indeed, bacteria and their metabolic byproducts are working in concert with the host chemosensory signaling pathways to affect both short- and long-term ingestive behavior. Sensing of nutrients and taste by specialized G protein-coupled receptor cells is important in transmitting food-related signals, optimizing nutrition as well as in prevention and treatment of several diseases, notably obesity, diabetes and associated metabolic disorders. Further, bacteria metabolites interact with specialized receptors cells expressed by gut epithelium leading to taste and appetite response changes to nutrients. This review describes recent advances on the role of gut bacteria in taste perception and functions. It further discusses how intestinal dysbiosis characteristic of several pathological conditions may alter and modulate taste preference and food consumption via changes in taste receptor expression.

Keywords: appetite; gut microbiota; intestinal dysbiosis; microbiome; taste function.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena*
  • Bariatric Surgery
  • COVID-19 / physiopathology
  • Diet
  • Dysbiosis / physiopathology
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / physiology*
  • Hormones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / physiopathology
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism
  • Taste
  • Taste Buds / physiology
  • Taste Perception*
  • Toll-Like Receptors / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Hormones
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Toll-Like Receptors