Original paper

Comparing Sensory Experience in Bitter Taste Perception of Phenylthiocarbamide within and between Human Twins and Singletons: Intrapair Differences in Thresholds and Genetic Variance Estimates

Sharma, Krishan


Background: Quantitative genetic studies revealed that not all of the phenotypic variance in PTC taste perception is heritable. Aim: To study quantitative variations in PTC tasting ability in twins and to estimate heritability of PTC taste perception on the taste of twin data on males and females sexes separately. Subjects and methods: The data for PTC taste sensitivity following the classic method of Harris & Kalmus (1949) were collected on a sample of 141 twin pairs (66 MZ and 75 DZ) and 275 singletons (128 males and 147 females) from Chandigarh,India.Genetic analyses were performed following Christian (1979),Donner (1986) and Sham (1998).Results: Frequency of non-tasters was similar in twins (33%) and singletons (32%),but significant sex differences were observed.No differences were found between zygosities for mean thresholds.Similarly,no evidence of variance heterogeneity and environmental covariance was seen between zygosities.Since no basic assumption of the twin method was found violated,within-pair estimates of genetic variance would be unbiased. These estimates were highly significant in both males and females.However,dominance and additive components of genetic variance were found to differ between sexes.Conclusion: PTC thresholds do not seem to be significantly affected by environmental factors as no variance inequality was observed between twin zygosities. Intensity of bitterness (scalar dimensions) of PTC is a separate trait having no commonality with the genetic basis of recognition threshold for PTC tasting ability.The receptors recognizing bitter taste are different from the receptors determining intensity of taste. The absolute difference between co-twins in PTC thresholds can be used as a simple tool in the twin zygosity diagnosis.The results show that none of the MZ co-twins had manifested difference of more than 3 in their PTC threshold.


PTC taste perceptiontwinssingletonsthresholdgenetic variancezygosity