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Letters to Nature
Nature 265, 536 - 537 (10 February 1977); doi:10.1038/265536a0

Divergent taste responsiveness to fruit of the tree Antidesma bunius

R. I. HENKIN* & W. T. GILLIS

*Center for Molecular Nutrition and Sensory Disorders, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC 20007
Department of Biology, Hope College, Holland, Michigan 49423 and Kellogg Biological Station, Hickory Corners, Michigan

GENETIC divergence of taste responsiveness was first demonstrated for phenylthiocarbamide (PTC)1, the inability to taste PTC bitter being described as an inherited Mendelian recessive character, and ability to taste PTC bitter as dominant2. This hypothesis has largely been confirmed3,4 although occasional incomplete penetrance of the ‘taster’ gene has been reported. Recently, eight people were served with a pie made from antidesma berries, and two people complained that the pie was extremely bitter and inedible. The other six people, however, found the pie pleasant tasting, enjoyably edible and sweet. This incident prompted us to survey taste responsivness to antidesma. We found that all subjects who tasted antidesma as bitter found PTC not bitter, whereas no subject who tasted PTC as bitter found antidesma bitter.

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