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Asparagus Metabolite Detection

Preliminary Research report on 1 reported marker.
About Asparagus Metabolite Detection

Some people are able to detect a distinct smell in their urine after eating asparagus, while other people don't notice a thing. Those who do catch a whiff liken the smell to rotten or boiling cabbage. The odor is thought to be due to an excreted metabolite called methanethiol, a sulfur-containing compound. Whether smelling the asparagus scent in urine is due to the ability to produce methanethiol, or the ability to detect it, hasn't quite been figured out yet. Regardless, family-based studies suggest that there is a genetic component to this odd human trait.

Asparagus metabolite detection

JournalPLoS Genetics
Study Size
Contrary StudiesNone
Applicable EthnicitiesEuropean

A study of 4,737 individuals of European ancestry who participated in 23andMe research surveys (3,002 who said they could smell asparagus in their urine and 1,735 who said they could not) identified a number of genetic variants associated with the ability to detect the scent of asparagus metabolites. Many of these variants were in a region of the genome that contains genes encoding olfactory receptors. The strongest association was found with rs4481887. Each copy of an A at this SNP increased a participant's odds of being able to smell asparagus in their urine by about 1.67 times compared to people with two Gs.

Who Genotype Genetic Result
AA Substantially higher odds of smelling asparagus in one's urine
Greg Mendel (Dad) AG Moderately higher odds of smelling asparagus in one's urine
GG Typical odds of smelling asparagus in one's urine
Eriksson N et al. (2010) . “Web-based, Participant-driven Studies Yield Novel Genetic Associations for Common Traits” PLoS Genetics 6(6): e1000993.
This is the name of the journal in which the findings were published. Associations published in major journals such as Science and Nature are generally more reliable, though reliable associations are frequently published in less well-known journals as well.
These icons estimate the study's size. In general, findings from larger studies are more reliable.
Studies whose results replicated these findings are listed here. In general, entries with more replications are more reliable.
Studies whose results contradicted these findings are listed here. In general, entries with more contrary studies are less reliable.
This is the ethnicity of the population in which the study was performed. Genetic associations often apply only to the study population. The findings may not be applicable to people whose ethnicity is different from the one reported.
This is the unique identifier (or rsid#) for the SNP associated with the trait or condition. Clicking on the identifier will take you to the Browse Raw Data entry for that SNP.
The genotyping services of 23andMe are performed in LabCorp's CLIA-certified, CAP-accredited laboratory in the United States. The information on this page is intended for research and educational purposes only and is not for diagnostic use.
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