Researchers at New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research reveal that they have identified the genetic basis for why we like certain smells and hate others.
Researchers led by Richard Newcomb recruited around 200 participants and tested their sensitivity for ten different smells, such as malt, apple, blue cheese and violets, that are commonly found in foods.
The smells were added in one of three wine glasses and the participants were asked to smell them, with the researchers slowly increasing the concentration of the smells until they were able to identify which glass the scent was in.
The researchers then collected blood samples of the participants and analyzed the sections of DNA that differed between people who were able to smell a certain compound and those who did not. The researchers found that for certain smells, such as violets, some people were 10,000 times better in identifying compared to others.
"We were surprised how many odors had genes associated with them. If this extends to other odors, then we might expect everyone to have their own unique set of smells that they are sensitive to. These smells are found in foods and drinks that people encounter every day, such as tomatoes and apples. This might mean that when people sit down to eat a meal, they each experience it in their own personalized way", Plant and Food Research's Jeremy McRae said.