Sunday 17 December 2017

Secret of sprouts is not hard to swallow

Eden Project
scientists in the
UK at work on
their
investigation into
the science
behind the
Brussels sprout.
The project
involves students
testing their DNA
for the gene that
is believed to
determine
whether a person
likes their
sprouts or not, an
age-old
Christmas
conundrum
Eden Project scientists in the UK at work on their investigation into the science behind the Brussels sprout. The project involves students testing their DNA for the gene that is believed to determine whether a person likes their sprouts or not, an age-old Christmas conundrum

Emma Hallett

Young scientists are investigating the science of one of the key festive foods as they aim to answer the eternal Christmas dinner conundrum: why can't some people stand Brussels sprouts?

A-level students are testing their DNA for the gene that is believed to determine whether a person likes their sprouts or not at the Eden Project in Cornwall, England.

The vegetables contain a bitter chemical similar to PTC (Phenylthiocarbamide) which tastes bitter to people that have a variation of a certain gene, a spokesman for the Eden Project said.

But those with a mutation on that gene do not taste the bitterness.

Around half of the world's population have the mutation, which scientists consider beneficial since people with it are more likely to enjoy eating Brussels sprouts, which are high in vitamin C and iron.

Alex Ledbrooke, Cornwall College science, technology, engineering and mathematics project manager, said: "Christmas dinner isn't usually associated with science. This hands-on project helps to do exactly that, as it explores why some people like and some hate Brussels sprouts."

The students are taking part in the tests as part of a national programme run by the UK Association for Science and Discovery Centres (ASDC) which aims to give young people hands-on experience with DNA.

They will extract their own DNA with a cheek swab and amplify it, giving enough to test for the gene.

They will see how evolution works, with practical experience of DNA techniques. DNA workshops are being run by 15 science and discovery centres and museums in the UK.

Irish Independent

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