Thursday, 22 July 2010

I can taste it!

First of all apologies for the lapse in my blogging. I have no excuse really other than, a hopefully passing phase, of lack of inspiration. In truth I mean't to write this particular post some time ago but actually didn't have the time. I do now ;)
A while back at work, I learned something about myself, genetically speaking. Phenylthiocarbamide (PTC) is an organic compound that either tastes very bitter or is virtually tasteless depending on the genetic makeup of the taster.

 A colleague fresh from his biology class came into our lab armed with PTC papers. We were all eager to try it and see who could taste it. I reacted severely as I was quite startled. I guess it can vary from taster to taster but to me it was very bitter and sharp tasting so I definitely have the gene. What this means exactly I don't know. The ability to taste PTC is a dominant trait with around 70% of people having the ability to taste it. This phenomenon was discovered by a chemist of course in 1931 by a man named Arthur Fox who accidently released a cloud of a fine crystalline PTC.Whilst he could taste nothing, a colleague nearby complained about the bitter taste. He then continued to test the taste buds of assorted family and friends, setting the groundwork for future genetic studies. Chemists eh? I guess it really is the 'central science'. I'm quite happy about that.

ps my apologies for not posting a pic of this molecule. I tried and failed.

I am grateful for any feedback and comments. Thanks for reading and don't be a stranger xxx