Do you hate sprouts?

If the answer is yes, then there is most likely a genetic explanation for it. Sixth form students analysed their taste receptors to find out if and why they don’t like certain foods at a biology workshop in Oxford this week.

During the workshop, the students analysed and compared their bitter taste receptor gene (genotype) to their ability to taste *PCT (their phenotype) which is found in a wide variety of foods including cabbage, cottage cheese, coffee, sprouts, coriander and grapefruit. These foods either taste very bitter or are virtually tasteless, depending on the genetic makeup of the taster.The students firstly carried out a taste test to determine their phenotype and then isolated their own DNA by taking a swab of their own cheek cells. They then carried out an experiment to discover their genotype and compared it to their phenotype.

Dr Stephanie Warren, Head of Biology, said: “About 70% of people can taste PTC, which may explain why many don’t like the strong taste of sprouts or coriander. This was a great opportunity for students to learn about modern molecular biology techniques by using research quality equipment. They finished by having a really interesting discussion about their results in the context of human evolution.”