The mysteries of how and why individuals’ noses detect odors was the focus of a recent “MTSU On the Record” radio program.
You can listen to their conversation via the Soundcloud link above.
When she was a student at Pennsylvania State University, Gaby and her colleagues conducted a study to determine whether people can either smell or taste the peppery influence that a substance called rotundone has in certain wines.
Rotundone is most prevalent in the skin of shiraz and noiret grapes. It also can be found in the essential oils of herbs such as marjoram, oregano, thyme, rosemary, basil and geranium, as well as in black pepper.
Since one of Gaby’s research specialties is human olfaction perception, she was particularly interested in why some people can detect rotundone nasally and others cannot. Each human being has about 350 olfactory receptors in his or her nose.
“Each receptor is tuned to a different molecule or class of molecules,” Gaby said. “So when you smell an odor, it’s made up of a bunch of different types of molecules, and it’s the pattern of which receptors are activated and how strongly they are activated that helps us to decode what we’re smelling.”
Gaby said each individual has a slightly different assortment of which molecules they can detect since these receptors are genetically encoded.
The research study, “Individual Differences in Thresholds and Consumer Preferences for Rotundone Added to Red Wine,” was published in August 2020 in the academic journal Nutrients.
To hear previous “MTSU On the Record” programs, visit the searchable “Audio Clips” archives at www.mtsunews.com.
For more information about the radio program, contact Logue at 615-898-5081 or WMOT-FM at 615-898-2800.