MadSci Network: General Biology

Re: Is there really such thing as a 'cilantro soap' gene?

Date: Wed Dec 24 09:41:25 2003
Posted By: Alex Brands, Post-doc/Fellow, Biological ciences, Lehigh University
Area of science: General Biology
ID: 1071687407.Gb

Hi Emily,

I have not heard of this phenomenon before, but itís a very interesting observation.  
Too bad it doesnít taste like soap to the rabbits that visit my garden.  

A google groups search confirms that you are not alone, as there are plenty of 
testimonials from people to whom cilantro tastes like soap.  There is no mention of 
this in the Genetics textbooks I checked, and I did a PubMed search of the primary 
research literature, but that came up empty.  The short answer is: no one knows (if 
they do, they havenít told anyone)

Iím convinced that cilantro tastes like soap to many people, and the most likely 
explanation is that this is a genetic trait.  However, it seems that has not yet been 
conclusively determined.  Once that is done, someone could pursue identification 
of the corresponding gene, but at the current state of technology, that would be a 
long arduous project that the funding agencies are not likely to support!

So at this point, the existence of a ďcilantro soapĒ gene canít be considered as fact, 
but it is a very reasonable hypothesis.  

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