Genetics of Food Preferences: A First View from Silk Road Populations

Nicola Pirastu*, Antonietta Robino, Carmela Lanzara, Emmanouil Athanasakis, Laura Esposito, Beverly J. Tepper, Paolo Gasparini

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Food preferences are the main factor driving food intake and choice. There are good reasons to suspect some genetic influence on food acceptance, not least because genetic factors are implicated in a number of factors that are likely to be related to food choice. In addition, some food dislikes show themselves early in life, before there is any evidence for aversive experiences. Although taste has been widely studied in regards of pure tastes such as bitter or sweet perception, the relationship between taste-related genes and food preferences has seldom been explored. In this work we investigated relationship of 37 taste-related genes with food preferences. The study was carried out during a scientific expedition through Caucasus and Central Asia (Silk Road) analyzing more than 400 samples from 5 different countries. A food preference questionnaire was administered to each participant and a DNA sample was obtained. Other information, such as age, sex, life style and anthropometrical measures, were also collected. We found significant associations with variants of: (1) TAS1R2 [Correction added after initial online publication on 27 Aug 2012. TAS1R3 was changed to TAS1R2.] gene and liking of Vodka (P = 1.6 x 10(-3)), white wine (P = 4.0 x 10(-4)) and lamb meat (P = 1.6 x 10(-3)); (2) PCLB2 gene and preference for Hot Tea (P = 8.0 x 10(-4)); (3) TPRV1 gene and beet liking (P = 3.8 x 10(-5)); and (4) ITPR3 gene and liking of both lamb meat (5.8 x 10(-4)) and sheep cheese (8.9x10(-4)). These findings give a new insight on a better understanding, of genetic factors influencing food preferences which is critical to the development of effective dietary interventions, especially for people that may be genetically not predisposed for liking specific nutrients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S413-S418
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of food science
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 13 Aug 2012

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • acceptability
  • food science
  • genotype
  • sensory evaluation
  • RAT
  • PAIN


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