Let's talk about Asparagus Odour Detection & Genetics
How it works
Ever noticed your urine smells different after eating asparagus? You’re not the only one.
The genetic link
23andMe researchers identified a genetic marker located near the OR2M7 gene that is associated with the likelihood of smelling asparagus-related odour in their urine. This gene has instructions for a protein that detects odour molecules.
What causes the smell?
Scientists believe the smell comes from molecules the body makes when it breaks down the asparagus. One of these molecules contains sulfur and has an odour like cooked cabbage.
Did you know?
The skin lining your nose contains nerve cells that are covered in molecular sensors, called “olfactory receptors.” These receptors specialize in detecting odour molecules. Humans can detect thousands of different scents using various combinations of more than 300 olfactory receptors. And the types of olfactory sensors you have determine what you can and cannot smell.
Got a whiff of your genetics and want to learn more? Pick up a 23andMe DNA kit to see what your genes have to say about asparagus odour detection and other interesting traits.