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Coriander – love it

  • Coriander – love it? Or not?

    by Market Insider

    Wednesday, 22 Jul. 2015

    Coriander (cilantro) is added as a leafy herb to dishes around the world.  For most, it provides a pleasant citrus-type flavour.  But for some diners a few leaves of coriander can ruin a meal.  Up to one in seven people experience the taste and smell of coriander completely differently, describing it as like soap. 

    Scientists have now identified genes related to smell and taste that contribute to this effect.

    According to a video from SciShow  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ymoPRWxZl8) there are four genes that seem to play a role.    A study by genetic testing firm 23andMe found people who describe coriander as tasting like bubble bath all shared a particular gene called OR6A2.  This gene is known to be involved in detecting particular aldehydes in coriander.

    According to 23andMe: 'We put the cilantro taste question to about 50,000 23andMe customers asking whether they liked the taste of cilantro and whether they thought cilantro had a soapy taste.  '

    When we compared the DNA of the cilantro haters to the DNA of the cilantro lovers, we found a SNP, or genetic variation, called rs72921001 to be associated with the trait in a subset of about 25,000 people with European ancestry.

    'It shouldn't be surprising that this SNP is located near eight genes that code for olfactory receptors, biological sensors that detect chemicals in the air and in food.

    'Although this finding provides evidence that genetic variation in olfactory receptors is involved in cilantro taste perception, common genetic variants explain only a very small part of the difference — a half percent — between 23andMe customers for this trait.'

    Around half of Europeans have two copies of Or6A2 on their chromosomes, but only 15% of these say coriander tastes like soap.  According to the SciShow video, around 11% of those without any copies of the gene also taste coriander in this way.

    They say this means there must be other genes playing a role.  The video claims another gene associated with smell and two involved in the detection of bitter tastes are also associated with the soapy taste of coriander.

    However, it appears there may be other factors that play a role too.

    In study of twins, 80% of identical twins share a like or dislike of coriander while 50% of non-identical twins had the same feelings about the herb

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