Scientists explain mystery behind durian’s pungent smell

/ 12:35 PM October 12, 2017 file photo

It smells like hell, but tastes like heaven. This is how the spiky durian fruit is described.

Aside from its prickly appearance and distinct flavor, what sets it apart from other fruits is its pungent aroma.


The origin of its scent has long been a mystery, up until a group of Singaporean scientists managed to discover where it comes from.

In a quest to produce an “odorless or milder-tasting” fruit, researchers funded by a group of anonymous durian lovers found a special odor gene within the fruit, the BBC reports.


After a complete genetic map of the durian, the five-man team of cancer specialists discovered the unique chemical, which also helps attract animals to consume the fruit and disperse its seeds.

“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, told the news outlet.

The durian, meanwhile, is grown in many parts across tropical Southeast Asia and has developed a reputation as a delicacy with an acquired taste.

Due to its powerful smell, the fruit has been banned in some public places including passenger buses and planes around the world, which has led scientists to develop an odorless alternative.

The experiment has sparked mixed reactions from the public, with some claiming that scientists should not mess with the fruit’s  signature rank aroma.  Khristian Ibarrola /ra


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TAGS: Durian, Patrick Tan, pungent smell, Singapore, sulphury aspect
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