organism odors ( was re: Ecoli?)

Walter Ogston ogston at HOBBES.KZOO.EDU
Mon Oct 9 14:36:23 EST 1995


Kathryn L. Sherlock, BS, MT(ASCP) (rockbugs at aol.com) writes:
> 
>      I didn't realize that recognizing characteristic odors of organisms
> was an unusual talent. 

I think I'm right that the recent work on cloning human
olfactory receptors shows that they are highly polymorphic.
Therefore (if that is so) it would not be surprising if the
ability to make distinctions based on odor should vary among
individuals.  

Added to that as Kathy mentions our language is very poorly
equipped to describe smells, and it is no wonder that this
ability is not a regular part of microbiology training.  If it
were to be so, students would have to spend a lot of time in
labs smelling known and unknown cultures and figuring out what
is what.  That could be fun and profitable, provided that a
majority have the genetic constitution to discriminate.  

I like the idea of trying to work out the chemistry of these
smells though.  This is similar in concept to fatty acid 
analysis that is already done, is it not?  

----------------------------------------------------------------------
Walter Ogston				ogston at hobbes.kzoo.edu
Department of Biology			Phone: (616)337-7010
Kalamazoo College			Fax:   (616)337-7251
Kalamazoo, MI 49006-3295



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