Cilantrophobia: Is it in your Genes?
Posted in Science by Courtney on October 5th, 2012
Comments Off on Cilantrophobia: Is it in your Genes?

Man holiding up a bushel of cilantro

Ever wonder what causes an herb to be such a controversial subject? Cilantro is normally loved or hated, there’s rarely an in between. It is so disliked it has sprouted a website called I Hate Cilantro where people can facilitate discussions about the garnish, and even share a haiku on the subject.

Believe it or not, recent studies have shown a correlation between distaste for cilantro and a specific gene. Via NPR:

Geneticists at 23andMe in California asked about 25,000 people whether they like cilantro or think it smells soapy. When they searched the people’s DNA for regions that correlate with a distaste for the herb, a single spot jumped out. And, it sits right next to a cluster of odor-detecting genes, including one that is known to specifically recognize the soapy aromas in cilantro’s bouquet.

The authors propose that this odor gene contributes to a person’s dislike for cilantro because it increases the herb’s soapy smell.

The scientists pinpointed three more genes that influence our perception of cilantro: Two of the genes are involved with tasting bitter foods and one gene detects pungent compounds, like those in wasabi.

Overall, Nicholas Eriksson (lead author on the study) says these studies demonstrate that DNA does shape our opinion of cilantro, but probably not enough that we can’t overcome it. “It isn’t like your height, that you’re stuck with. People can change it,” he says.

Who knew that such distaste for the leafy green substance could be engrained in your genetic makeup!

Ever wonder what your genes would look like as art? Check out our DNA portraits.


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