Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Community News Network

August 2, 2013

Study shows genetics can determine why we smell certain odors differently

The next time you argue with a friend about the whiff of cilantro in your stir-fry that he finds disgusting, blame his genes.

All of us inhabit our own flavor world that is highly dependent on our genetic blueprint for being able to smell certain odors, according to two studies a New Zealand research group published online Thursday in the journal Current Biology.

The perception of flavor while eating includes what your taste buds can detect — sweet, salty, bitter, sour and umami (often called savory) — but they play a meek supporting role to your sense of smell.

That sensory experiences of food differ from person to person has always been known anecdotally. Think of strong, hoppy beer or black coffee that some find revoltingly bitter but others can drink like water. But the researchers wanted to know how much of that variability is genetically hard-wired.

They had 187 people smell 10 different compounds, taking note of who could smell them at a certain concentration level and who couldn't. They sequenced each person's DNA, scanning their genomes to pick out parts that could possibly explain the variations in smell sensitivity.

Out of 10 scents tested, four had a strong genetic basis — malt, apple, blue cheese and violet. They were also independent of one another, so even if you have a super-nose for blue cheese, you might fall short when it comes to smelling violets.

One study found a single gene change linked to the floral scent found in violets. The other study more generally hunted down spots within the genome connected to three additional food-related smells.

Odors typically consist of molecular building blocks called aroma compounds. For example, while blue cheese gives off a whole bouquet of aromas, 2-heptanone is the chemical that really "gives blue cheese its blue cheesiness," said lead researcher Richard Newcomb of the New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research.

Text Only
Community News Network
House Ads
Hendricks County Marquee
Email News Sign Up
Facebook
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Poll

Has the rash of shootings in Indianapolis made you reconsider attending an event or patronizing a business there? Yes, it's out of control No, it's no more dangerous than anywhere else

     View Results
AP Video
Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Must Read