Genetic Taste Tests and What They Tell You
Many human traits are determined by a single pair of alleles. An allele is an alternative form of a gene, located at a specific position on a specific chromosome. These DNA codings determine distinct traits that can be passed on from parents to offspring.
There are tons of fun, easy studies you can do for various genetic traits, like tongue rolling, attached earlobes, interlocking fingers, dimpled cheeks, and a widow’s peak, but our favorite is the taste test.
PTC Taste Test
PTC is the most common taste test, and although its safety is sometimes questioned, we’re here to tell you that our PTC test paper is absolutely harmless. We would never tell you to put an unsafe test strip in your mouth. We’re not the Wicked Witches of the West over here, although if you’re a supertaster, you might disagree with that statement. But if you still question its safety, you can check out our SDS to put your worries at ease.
PTC tastes bland, bitter or even vile depending on your genes. There is a single gene that codes for a protein found in our tongues. PTC will bind with the protein if it’s present, and you will certainly be able to taste it. However, if the protein is not present, the PTC will not bind and you won’t taste anything.
The ability to taste PTC is a dominant trait, so you’re in the majority if you’ve got it. A special congrats to all of you supertasters out there who taste these bitter compounds even more intensely. As for the rest of you, your bitter blindness isn’t debilitating; it just means you can’t taste certain bitter flavors.
Supertasters are more likely to find green vegetables bitter, like broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage and kale. Don’t you wish you had known this as a kid?! “Sorry mom, I’m a supertaster, this broccoli just won’t do.” Oh how different life could’ve been.
Sodium Benzoate and Thiourea
A different pair of alleles determines the ability to taste Sodium Benzoate, so the taste results are different from PTC. Sodium Benzoate can taste salty, sweet, sour, bitter, or tasteless. Sodium Benzoate test strips can be used in conjunction with PTC to divide PTC tasters and non-tasters into subgroups.
Thiourea is another taste test you can perform, and like PTC, it is a bitter compound. The ability to taste PTC and Thiourea are genetically linked because they’re similar chemicals, however, this doesn’t mean you will have the same reaction to both. PTC and Thiourea are not identical, so some people may taste PTC but not Thiourea, or vice versa.
Here are some fun activities to try with our taste test strips:
What does it all mean?
So what does it mean if you’re a taster or a non-taster? Well, we already learned that tasters dislike green veggies a little more than non-tasters. That seems like a given.
Different studies claim to link various traits and habits to tasters and non-tasters. For example, some studies suggest that people who can taste PTC are more likely to be non-smokers, and are less likely to be coffee/tea drinkers. Women, Asians, and African-Americans are more likely to be super-tasters. Other studies suggest that non-tasters are more likely to have certain thyroid problems, while tasters are at a higher risk for heart disease and cancer.
Whether or not these studies are true, it’s great incentive to come up with a study of your own. Taste testing with a diverse group of participants can yield some interesting results, and you can create your own set of conclusions based on your data.
Using multiple taste test strips, your participants will fall into groups/subgroups where you can then identify similar habits and traits among those participants. Let’s see what conclusions you come up with! Now go get your taste test on!
Like our Facebook post with the Genetics Test Pack giveaway for a chance to win a set of PTC, Thiourea, Sodium Benzoate & Control Test Strips. Five winners will be chosen!
*UPDATE: This Giveaway is closed.