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Body odor similarity in noncohabiting twins

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Craig Roberts, Emeritus Professor Morris Gosling, Paul Miller, Dr Dustin Penn, Emerita Professor Marion Petrie


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There is currently considerable interest in biometric approaches using human odor as a marker of disease or genetic individuality. Body odor is also thought to be used during mate choice to select genetically compatible mates. The idea that body odor reveals information about both genetic identity and genetic similarity is most readily tested by examining odor in twin pairs. However, although this idea can be traced back 130 years to Francis Galton in 1875, most studies using dogs fail to control for shared environmental effects associated with cohabitation. Here we show that odors of identical twins (but not dizygotic twins) can be matched by human sniffers at rates better than chance, even when the twins are living apart. In addition, matching frequencies for identical twin odors were not significantly different from those for duplicate odors from the same individual. These results indicate an important genetic influence on body odor and the potential for developing technologies for human odor printing in relation to underlying genotype. © The Author 2005. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Roberts SC, Gosling LM, Spector TD, Miller P, Penn DJ, Petrie M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Chemical Senses

Year: 2005

Volume: 30

Issue: 8

Pages: 651-656

ISSN (print): 0379-864X

ISSN (electronic): 1464-3553

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/chemse/bji058

PubMed id: 16162644


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