Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bitter gene

Wonder why your drinking companions never find a cocktail too bitter? Perhaps they're non-tasters for the bitter-tasting chemical PTC - about a quarter of us have a recessive gene that leaves us unable to taste PTC.

Now there's proof that even for certain Neanderthals, there's no such thing as too bitter. Analysis of a 48,000 year-old bone shows that the genetic variation responsible for this difference also existed in Neanderthals. This means that this genetic variation predates the divergence of the lineages leading to Neanderthals and modern humans.

Says the lead scientist: "The non-taster is not something that occurs just in modern populations. It is something that was present at least half a million years ago."

More here.

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