Taste is one of the main factors determining food choices. Differences in PROP bitter taste perception have been implicated in individual differences in food preferences and selection. The present study examined associations between, PROP phenotypes, self-reported food liking and TAS2R38 polymorphisms, the major gene implicated in PROP bitterness, in six different populations of the Caucasus and Central Asia, located along the ancient Silk Road. Differences in the distribution of PROP phenotypes across populations were detected, with a higher frequency of super tasters in Tajikistan (31.3%) and Armenia (39.0%) and a higher frequency of non tasters in Georgia (50.9%). While no relationships were observed between PROP phenotypes and food liking using standard statistical tests, we used an approach based on comparison of distance matrices derived from these data. The first matrix compared the food liking ratings of each population to all others pairwise using the Kruskal-Wallis test (at p<0.00063), and the second one compared the distribution of PROP phenotypes across all populations in a similar manner calculating the chi-square statistic as a distance measure. A strong correlation between the two matrices was found (Mantel test: r = 0.67, p-value = 0.03), suggesting that the pattern of food liking across populations was closely related to the distribution of PROP phenotypes. This same relationship was not observed when TAS2R38 genotypes were substituted for PROP phenotypes in this analysis. Our data suggest that a population-based approach utilizing distance matrices is a useful technique for detecting PROP-related differences in food liking and can be applied to other taste phenotypes.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)