New research suggests that our sensitivity — or lack thereof — to certain smells and flavors may have a genetic basis, potentially to to the presence or absence of specific genes. That’s right, you may have been born with the blue cheese gene! Via LATimes.com:
If beer or blue cheese smell good to you, thank your DNA
We all smell things a little differently, and new research shows why: By examining the DNA of hundreds of individuals and testing their sense of smell, scientists found the genetic basis for why we smell certain scents.
Hundreds of test subjects were given three wine glasses — two with just water and the third with a dilution of the scent. They sniffed and then guessed which of the glasses contained the scent. Then the researchers increased the concentrations of the scents in a series of experiments and recorded the concentration at which the subject correctly guessed which glass held the aroma.
Newcomb then drew blood samples from the test subjects, which were used to examine their DNA and look for regions of the genome that were correlated with sensitivity to a particular smell.
They found a statistically significant genetic basis for four of the 10 fragrances: apples, violets, blue cheese and malt (maybe a craving for beer is hard-wired!). The genes responsible for detecting these scents were spread out across the genome, and it appeared that there was a single gene responsible for each of them, Newcomb said.
In a follow-up study in the same issue of Current Biology, they were even able to pinpoint the exact mutation responsible for smelling violets (in case you’re mapping your own genome, it’s on chromosome 11).