If you don't like the taste of pork, the reason may be that your genes cause you to smell the meat more intensely, according to a new study.
Duke University Medical Center scientists, working with colleagues in Norway, found that about 70 percent of people have two functional copies of a gene linked to an odor receptor that detects a compound in male mammals called androstenone, which is common in pork. People with one or no functional copies of the gene can tolerate the scent of androstenone much better than those with two, the researchers said.
Hiroaki Matsunami, PhD, a Duke associate professor of molecular genetics and microbiology, had previously discovered and described the genetics of the odor receptor for androstenone (OR7D4). But it wasn't until a group of pork scientists in Norway contacted him that he launched an experiment to learn more precisely at a genetic level how humans perceive the smell of meat.
The Norwegian team had practical reasons for the study: It was concerned what might happen in Europe if a castration method for swine were outlawed. Currently, female pork meat and castrated male pork meat are sold in Europe. The researchers were curious how consumers might respond to meat from noncastrated males.