The Union Recorder

Top Stories

August 5, 2013

Study shows genetics can determine why we smell certain odors differently

(Continued)

The roof of our nasal cavity has a patch of millions of special neurons, each one covered with olfactory receptors that bind to odor molecules that travel through the air. But each neuron has a single type of odor receptor, meaning it can detect only smells that have the right structure.

For comparison, color vision only has three types of receptors, each corresponding to different range of the color spectrum; our nose has 400 types, each with a matching olfactory receptor gene within our DNA. Any variation in those genes will affect our sense of smell.

Since humans can detect 10,000 odors, and each one can be dialed up or down depending on that person's genetic makeup, smelling is a highly personalized experience.

"When people sit around and share a bottle of wine, they often describe it quite differently," Newcomb said.

Wines make up some of the most complex flavors out there, he said, and a single wine can give off hundreds, if not thousands, of distinct aromas.

Sometimes, your sensitivity can even completely change the notes of a scent. Newcomb and his colleagues found that the violet compound smelled "fragrant" and "floral" to those with a heightened sense, whereas less sensitive individuals described it as unpleasantly "sour" and "acidic."

Our genes are coded with similar likes and dislikes for cilantro.

"Some people get a floral note from it, whereas others get a real soapy sensation," Newcomb said.

Joel Mainland, a neuroscientist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center who was not involved in the studies, suspects the culprit is a bad-smelling chemical within the hundreds of molecules of cilantro that some super smellers can detect — the cilantro haters — but others cannot.

Mainland called the pair of studies "an advance in the field" and sees applications for the food and flavor industry.

Text Only
Top Stories
Poll
AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
Facebook
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Stocks
NDN Video
'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years