Hate sprouts? This could explain why

Young scientists are testing their DNA for the gene that may answer the eternal Christmas dinner conundrum: why can’t some people stand Brussels sprouts?

A-level students are conducting experiments at the Eden Project as part of a national programme run by the UK Association for Science and Discovery Centres and supported by the Wellcome Trust, which aims to give young people hands-on experience with DNA.

Sprouts contain a chemical that tastes bitter to people who have a variation of a certain gene. Those with a mutation on that gene don’t taste the bitterness. Around half of the world’s population have the mutation, which scientists consider beneficial, since people with it are more likely to enjoy eating sprouts, which are high in vitamin C and iron.

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Students on educational visits to Eden will extract their own DNA with a cheek swab as part of a workshop, which lasts about five hours.

John Ellison, head of education strategy at Eden Project, said: “These workshops use Brussels sprouts and our own DNA to show how humans and plants have evolved together.

“The Eden Project provides the context to connect molecular biology with rainforest research into the plant diversity, which is vital for future survival.”