Senses Molecules

Year of erogation: 
Unit Coordinator: 
Disciplinary Sector: 
Organic Chemistry
First semester
Year of study: 
Language of instruction: 


Learning outcomes of the course unit

The course aims to provide the student with theoretical and applied skills
related to the physiological and molecular mechanisms of perception of
taste, aroma and color in foods, and the formation of responsible


Basics of organic chemistry and food chemistry are essential for a correct
understanding of the course content.

Course contents summary

Mechanism of perception of taste and its evolutionary basis - Nature of
the interactions between taste molecules and receptors - Sweet
molecules and structural requirements for the perception of sweetness -
Natural and artificial sweeteners - Bitter molecules and structural
requirements for the perception of bitter taste - Structure of the
molecules responsible for the perception of umami, salty, acid tastes -
Non-gustatory perceptions in the oral cavity: astringency, spicy,
refreshing - Mechanism of perception of aromas, pheromones - Structural
requirements of olfactory active molecules and aroma value - Aromas
naturally present in food: primary aromas - Aromas generated by
cooking, fermentation and processing: secondary aromas - Molecular
basis of color perception - Colored compounds in food - Preservation and
formation of color in food in relation to cooking and transformation

Recommended readings

Materials and slides provided by the lecturer.
In order to get more informations on the subjects treated:
- C. Dall'Asta, G. Galaverna. Molecole del Gusto- ovvero la chimica dei
sapori, Ed. MUP
- P. Cabras, A. Martelli, Chimica degli Alimenti, Ed. Piccin (PD) -- Belitz,
Grosch, Food Chemistry, Ed. Springer-Verlag
- M. Marconi, D. Fajneer, G. Benevelli, G. Nicoli, Dentro al gusto, Ed.

Teaching methods

The course takes place during 21 hours of frontal lectures. During these
hours, the students are guided to the understanding of the basic and
application concepts related to molecules impacting sensory properties,
through the projection of slides accompanied by explanations, in order to
develop a solid theoretical knowledge that can serve as a basis for a
practical approach to the subjects of taste, aroma and color in food.
Lectures will be organized in presence, with the possibility to attend them
also from distance in asynchronous way (saved on the Elly website of the course)

Assessment methods and criteria

The exam is based on a written test containing open questions, also with
applicative aspects, for the students to be answered.
Participation in the test is possible ONLY after registration through the
ESSE3 system. Students not officially registered will not be admitted to
take the test. There will be 7 different sessions of test per year.
The time for the test is 2 hours.
During the test the student can withdraw, and in this case the test is not
corrected and the result will be recorded in the ESSE3 system as
The results of the written test will be published on ESSE3 and each
student will receive an email with the result.
The test is considered passed and the grade can be officially recorded if
the grade of the test is equal to or higher than 18. In case of a grade
lower than 18, the test will have to be repeated.
In the event of a grade equal to or greater than 18, the student has two
- Accept the vote received, which will then be officially recorded
- Reject the vote using the specific option in ESSE3, and repeat the exam.
Attention: the refusal must be explicit, the silence-assent rule applies.

Other informations

In case of public health emergency the modalities for lecturing and
exams might be modified. All changes will be timely communicated on
Elly website and/or on the site of the course.