Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 49–56 | Cite as

Specific anosmia to trimethylamine: The fishy primary odor

  • John E. Amoore
  • L. Janet Forrester


About 7% of human subjects are specifically anosmic to the odor of trimethylamine. Odor threshold measurements on 16 aliphatic amines were made with panels of specific anosmics and normal observers. The anosmia is most pronounced with low-molecular-weight tertiary amines, but is also observed in lesser degree with primary and secondary amines. It is suggested that this specific anosmia corresponds with the absence of a new olfactory primary, the “fishy” odor. Trimethylamine has been reported to occur in human menstrual blood and in the anal gland of the red fox, implying some pheromonal function.

Key words

amines anosmia fishy odor odor thresholds primary odor specific anosmia tertiary amines trimethylamine 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • John E. Amoore
    • 1
  • L. Janet Forrester
    • 1
  1. 1.U.S. Department of AgricultureWestern Regional Research Laboratory Agricultural Research ServiceBerkeley

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