Food & Nutrition

Sensitivity to Blue Cheese Aroma gene explained

Is sensitivity to moldy cheese genetic? Genomelink offers an in-depth genetic analysis of your raw DNA.

Join now & unlock 300+ unique Traits like this.

100+ are available for free


Don’t like the smell of blue cheese? There's a gene for that! Uncover your potential through genomic science.

Whether you love blue cheese or despise it, you'll probably agree that the smell is...


But if you  really can't stand the smell of blue cheese, there might be a genetic component involved.

Moldy blue cheese affects certain people very intensely. This semi-soft cheese gets its distinctive blue color (and equally distinctive smell) from the Penicillium mold introduced before the aging process and the bacteria that form as it ages.

For people with a low moldy blue cheese tolerance, the smell has been compared to gym socks, ammonia, and barnyards.

So, what does this mean? Does a low tolerance for moldy blue cheese indicate something specific about your genetic makeup?

What Genes Affect Moldy Blue Cheese Tolerance?

Our ability to smell scents appears to be genetically influenced. Research has shown that genetic variants affect how we perceive different smells. Olfactory receptors, which allow our bodies to detect odorants, are critical factors in an individual's sense of smell. The blue cheese smell is caused by a compound called 2-heptanone, meaning that our sensitivity to the smell of blue cheese is directly tied to our perception or detection of 2-heptanone.

In a 2013 genome-wide association study, investigators examined unrelated Caucasian adults (aged 20 to 50) to examine the threshold levels at which the participants can smell 2-heptanone. They discovered that the ability to detect 2-heptanone is associated with a specific gene locus found on Chromosome 3. Consistent with previous research related to olfactory perception, the identified region is within a cluster of 18 olfactory receptors. 

Interestingly, 7 of these olfactory receptors are predicted to be pseudogenes, essentially imperfect copies of complete genes. Additionally, this finding was validated in another population consisting of Southeast Asian individuals, suggesting that the patterns observed may apply to other populations. Finally, when the researchers looked at the available information on the distributions of gene variants in different populations worldwide, they found that sensitivities to odors did not systematically differ across cultures. This suggests that a differential ability to perceive odors is not a major driver for differences in the types of cuisine we see around the world (and does not explain why some populations consume more blue cheese, for example).

How Do I Find What Genes I Have?

While the significance of a genetic predisposition to moldy blue cheese intolerance hasn't been established, having your raw DNA file analyzed will help you better understand your genetic makeup.

If you've performed an at-home DNA test through MyHeritage or 23andMe, you can access your raw DNA file from your provider. Once you have your file, you can download it to Genomelink for in-depth genetic analysis.

Do you think you might have the blue cheese gene? The best way to find out is to get a full DNA analysis. Genetic DNA analysis on Genomelink with a quality DNA testing kit can bring to light whether you have the blue cheese gene or not.

Explore your genetic makeup by signing up with Genomelink today!

Join now & unlock 300+ unique Traits like this.

100+ are available for free