Considerable evidence supports the idea that odorant recognition depends on specific sequence variations in olfactory receptor (OR) proteins. Much of this emerges from in vitro screens in heterogenous expression systems. However, the ultimate proof should arise from measurements of odorant thresholds in human individuals harboring different OR genetic variants, a research vein that has so far been only scantly explored. The study of McRae et al., published in this issue of Chemical Senses, shows how the recognition of a grassy odorant depends on specific OR interindividual sequence changes. It provides a clear relevant example for the impact of genetics on olfaction and is an excellent portrayal of the power of human genomics to decipher olfactory perception.
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