Science Says Pungent Smell of Durians Is Because Of Its 46,000 Genes

The scientists have revealed the secret behind a pungent smell of durians, which is known as the king of fruits in the Southeast Asia for its forbidding spiny outward form, flavor and the unique smell. The team has discovered a set of genes present in the durians that activated as durian ripens, which create an unusual smell.

The scientists have now given a potential lifeline to all the durian eaters, which is a fruit banned in many hotels and subways of the city due to its unpleasant odor.

A geneticist, co-leader of the theory published in the Nature Genetics journal and deputy director of the National Cancer Center Singapore, Bin Tean Teh stated that, “The durian smell has been described as a mix of an onion-like sulfury aroma with notes of sweet fruitiness and savory soup-seasoning. A key component of the durian smell are volatile sulfur compounds, or VSCs, which have been characterized as decaying, onion-like, rotten eggs, sulfury and fried shallots.

Musang King is one of the varieties of durians, in which the scientists discovered around 46,000 genes that is almost a double than that in the human genome. They also tracked the fruit’s evolution back to 65 million years to the relationship with an ancient cacao tree, which provides seeds for chocolate production.

Scientists added to information that durian has at least 30 different species including some of them are edible, inedible, some with distinctive features and few are even endangered. Since, durian is also very important economically in the market as it was imported for $600 million to $800 million last year to China.

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