Deemed as one of nature’s smelliest secrets, the durian tropical fruit contains an odour gene which is responsible for its notoriously pungent scent, the five-member team of cancer scientists found.
After three years of research, privately funded by a group of anonymous durian lovers, the scientists now have a complete genetic map of the fruit, a world first.
Their findings were published in academic journal Nature Genetics.
“Our analysis revealed that volatile sulphur production is turbocharged in durians, which fits with many people’s opinions that durian smell has a ‘sulphury’ aspect,” geneticist Patrick Tan, who co-led the study, said on Monday.
The odour, scientists said, helps the fruit serve an essential purpose in the wild – it attracts animals to consume it and then disperse the seeds.
Along with the mytstery behind its odour, scientists also revealed the tropical fruit‘s ancestry. Researchers said that it is believed to be dating back an estimated 65 million years to the cacao plant from where we get chocolate, the BBC reported.
Grown in many countries across tropical South East Asia, the spiky, stinky durian is an acquired taste.
The fruit is loved and loathed in equal measure. Eating durian is banned in many outdoor spaces throughout Singapore and carrying it is prohibited on public transport because of its smell.