I saw this article a while back and haven’t had time to post a link until now, but I wanted to include it in our series of posts on the genetic variance in the sense of smell (other posts on this topic can be found in the Olfaction category and have the tag “genetics” ).
I’ve posted links to other research demonstrating that genetics helps determine our sensitivity to various aroma molecules, giving each of us a unique sense of smell. New research indicates that the environment we live in may actually change the structure of the olfactory neurons and therefore change our ability to smell, meaning that both environment and genetics play a role. The research was conducted with mice, but presumably researchers will confirm that it applies to humans as well. Here’s a link to the interesting ScienceDaily article titled “Genetics, environment combine to give everyone a unique sense of smell.”
From the ScienceDaily article:
Dr. Darren Logan, the lead author on the study from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, said: “The neurons in the olfactory system are highly connected to the neurons in the brain and studying these can help us understand neuronal development. We have shown that each individual has a very different combination of possible olfactory neurons, driven by genetics. In this study we also show that, with experience of different smells, these combinations of neurons change, so both genetics and environment interplay to give every individual a unique sense of smell.”