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Is a Sweet Tooth Inherited?

based on 20 ratings
Author: Christine Ryder Combs
Difficulty of Project

Easy

Grade Level

Middle

Cost

$5

Safety Issues

This project may require written consent from parents/guardians of minors if a human subject participating in the study is under the age of eighteen.

Material Availability

Material for this project can be easily purchased at local grocery stores.

Approximate Time Required to Complete the Project

1-2 Weeks

Objective

To determine if a sweet tooth is most likely an inherited trait or a learned behavior.

The purpose of this investigation is to assess patterns of inheritance within several families and survey individual members of the family to separate members of those with a sweet tooth from those who do not. Following this preliminary investigation, data will be collected to evaluate the pattern of inheritance within the family by requiring the participants to participate in a taste test to determine their sensitivity to varying concentrations of sugar.

Materials and Equipment / Ingredients

  • Plastic cups
  • Sugar
  • Survey
  • Triple beam balance
  • Volumetric flask

Introduction

Diabetes is progressively a disorder of concern in our society. While diabetes is an inherited disorder, more and more people in the United States are developing early onset diabetes at younger ages. Scientists attribute a person’s diet to the incident of diabetes. As more and more sugary products are consumed, people put their pancreas hard at work to produce larger concentrations of insulin protein at higher frequency to regulate the digestion of sugary products. Over time the body loses its ability to produce insulin protein and thus the body loses its capacity to regulate sugar breakdown. Managing the diet and regulating the intake of sugary products can reduce the chance of developing diabetes later in life. If it can be proven that a sweet tooth is an inherited trait, informed individuals may recognize their behavior as a predisposition toward overconsumption of sugary products that will effectively increase their chance of developing diabetes later in life and may choose to substitute their choice of food for healthier alternatives.

Research Questions

  • How do scientists classify behaviors as inherited or learned?
  • What are examples of inherited behaviors?
  • What are examples of learned behaviors?
  • What is a pedigree chart?
  • How do scientists use pedigree charts to study patterns of inheritance and to identify patterns of inheritance?
  • What disorders are associated with the consumption of sugary products?
  • What are the causes of diabetes?
  • What are the symptoms of diabetes?

Terms and Concepts to Start Background Research

  • Cellular Respiration
  • Diabetes
  • Dominant trait
  • Experimental Procedure
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Genetics
  • Glucose
  • Innate behavior
  • Insulin
  • Learned behavior
  • Pedigree Chart
  • Recessive trait

The diagram of the pedigree chart illustrates taste perception inheritance in three generations of the same family.

Experimental procedure

  1. Select between three and ten families with at least three generations to complete this study.
  2. Distribute a survey to each member of the family to evaluate the individual’s tendency to consume sugary products. The survey should include questions to evaluate the frequency of sugar consumption and to identify the sources of sugar they consume. The individual should identify whether they believe they have a sweet tooth or not.
  3. For each individual family member, gather the surveys and create a pedigree chart to link all family members. The pedigree chart should highlight the individuals with sweet tooth.
  4. Analyze the pedigree chart for each family to determine if there is an observable pattern of inheritance. For example, recessive, dominant, or sex-linked.
  5. Prepare a 10 molar solution of glucose by measuring precisely 10 moles of glucose. 1 mole of glucose, C6H12O6, is equivalent to 180 grams. 10 moles of glucose is equivalent to 1800 grams of glucose. Dissolve the sugar in 100 mL of distilled water and transfer the solution to a 1000 mL volumetric flask. Continue to add water to the volumetric flask until the capacity of 1000 mL has been reached.
  6. Label the volumetric flask as a 100% sugar solution.
  7. Prepare a 90% sugar solution by measuring 1620 grams of sugar. Dissolve the sugar in 100 mL of distilled water and transfer the solution to a 1000 mL volumetric flask. Continue to add water to the volumetric flask until the capacity of 1000 mL has been reached.
  8. Label the volumetric flask as a 90% sugar solution.
  9. Prepare an 80% sugar solution by measuring 1440 grams of sugar. Dissolve the sugar in 100 mL of distilled water and transfer the solution to a 1000 mL volumetric flask. Continue to add water to the volumetric flask until the capacity of 1000 mL has been reached.
  10. Label the volumetric flask as 80% sugar solution.
  11. Prepare a 90% sugar solution by measuring 1260 grams of sugar. Dissolve the sugar in 100 mL of distilled water and transfer the solution to a 1000 mL volumetric flask. Continue to add water to the volumetric flask until the capacity of 1000 mL has been reached.
  12. Label the volumetric flask as a 70% sugar solution.
  13. Prepare a 60% sugar solution by measuring 1080 grams of sugar. Dissolve the sugar in 100 mL of distilled water and transfer the solution to a 1000 mL volumetric flask. Continue to add water to the volumetric flask until the capacity of 1000 mL has been reached.
  14. Label the volumetric flask as a 60% sugar solution.
  15. Prepare a 50% sugar solution by measuring 900 grams of sugar. Dissolve the sugar in 100 mL of distilled water and transfer the solution to a 1000 mL volumetric flask. Continue to add water to the volumetric flask until the capacity of 1000 mL has been reached.
  16. Label the volumetric flask as a 60% sugar solution.
  17. Prepare a 40% sugar solution by measuring 720 grams of sugar. Dissolve the sugar in 100 mL of distilled water and transfer the solution to a 1000 mL volumetric flask. Continue to add water to the volumetric flask until the capacity of 1000 mL has been reached.
  18. Label the volumetric flask as a 40% sugar solution.
  19. Prepare a 30% sugar solution by measuring 540 grams of sugar. Dissolve the sugar in 100 mL of distilled water and transfer the solution to a 1000 mL volumetric flask. Continue to add water to the volumetric flask until the capacity of 1000 mL has been reached.
  20. Label the volumetric flask as a 30% sugar solution.
  21. Prepare a 20% sugar solution by measuring 360 grams of sugar. Dissolve the sugar in 100 mL of distilled water and transfer the solution to a 1000 mL volumetric flask. Continue to add water to the volumetric flask until the capacity of 1000 mL has been reached.
  22. Label the volumetric flask as a 20% sugar solution.
  23. Prepare a 10% sugar solution by measuring 180 grams of sugar. Dissolve the sugar in 100 mL of distilled water and transfer the solution to a 1000 mL volumetric flask. Continue to add water to the volumetric flask until the capacity of 1000 mL has been reached.
  24. Label the volumetric flask as a 10% sugar solution.
  25. Label plastic cups 1-10 to correspond to varying concentrations of sugar solution. Poor small taste volumes of sugar solution into paper cups and distribute to all family members. Each family member should receive a 100%, 90%, 80% etc. sample of sugar solution. The concentration of the cups should not be revealed to the participants in the study and participants should not discuss their taste perceptions.
  26. Each family member should evaluate and rate each cup based on whether they could taste dissolved sugar or not on a survey.
  27. Gather the surveys; evaluate the results of the surveys to separate the individuals into two groups, those who could taste the smaller concentrations and those who could not taste the smaller concentrations.
  28. Compare both groups to the actual self evaluation each family member made of themselves pertaining to whether they believed themselves to have a sweet tooth or not.
  29. To determine if there is a correlation between those who could taste the sugar and those who have a sweet tooth, compare the results to the pedigree chart created at the beginning of the experiment to observe any trends or patterns in taste.

Bibliography

  1. Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man
  2. United States National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health
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