New findings on Mother Earth's earthy scent

Jul 21, 2008

That evocative "earthy" scent of the soil returning to life in spring — and nasty earthy tastes and odors in fish and drinking water — actually results from two substances released by soil bacteria. Researchers in Rhode Island now report identifying how one of these substances forms, an understanding that could lead to improvements in the quality of water and food products. Their study, the first substantial research on the topic in 30 years, is scheduled for the July 23 issue of the weekly Journal of the American Chemical Society.

In the new study, David E. Cane and Chieh-Mei Wang point out that these two substances, geosmin and methylisoborneol, are volatile organic substances produced by certain soil bacteria. Although they are not harmful to health, these substances are difficult to remove from food and water products. The researchers recently identified the mechanism by which geosmin forms, but little is known about how methylisoborneol forms, they say.

To find out, the scientists studied the formation of methylisoborneol from Streptomyces coelicolor, a common soil bacterium. They found that that the substance is formed in an assembly line process directed by two recently discovered genes. A better understanding of this process could lead to new ways to prevent the formation of the odor-causing substance and may lead to consumer products with improved taste and smells, the researchers suggest.

Article: dx.doi.org/10.1021/ja803639g

Source: ACS

Explore further: Beer quality is no froth and bubble

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Vine-tree-like CNT architectures

Nov 03, 2014

The vine-tree structure is widely observed in nature when the plant has a growth habit of trailing or climbing stems. The vines use trees for growth rather than devoting energy to development of supportive ...

Aussie answer to toxic fire-fighting chemicals

Oct 06, 2014

Australian scientists have come up with the solution to a world-wide pollution problem – how to mop up the toxic residues left after the use of special foams to fight fires.

On the scent of a wine's bouquet

Oct 02, 2014

The majority of wines are produced from around 20 different types of grape, all of which have their own typical aroma. This is due to the terpenes, a diverse category of chemical substances including cholesterol ...

Lavender farmers rebel against EU chemical rules

Sep 07, 2014

The sweet smell of lavender is tinged with bitterness this year in the south of France, as farmers who harvest the flower protest European regulations linking the plant to chemical toxins.

Recommended for you

A renewable bioplastic made from squid proteins

1 hour ago

In the central Northern Pacific is an area that may be the size of Texas called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Made up of tons of floating plastic debris, the patch is killing seabirds and poisoning marine ...

Cells build 'cupboards' to store metals

Dec 17, 2014

Lawrence Livermore researchers in conjunction with collaborators at University of California (link is external), Los Angeles have found that some cells build intracellular compartments that allow the cell ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.