Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp 299–310 | Cite as

Specific anosmia to 1-pyrroline: The spermous primary odor

  • John E. Amoore
  • L. Janet Forrester
  • Ron G. Buttery


About 20% of human subjects are specifically anosmic to the odor of the heterocyclic Schiff's base 1-pyrroline. Odor threshold measurements on 33 nitrogenous bases were made with panels of specific anosmics and normal observers. The anosmia proved to be very selective, and was encountered only with 1-pyrroline and its homolog 1-piperideine. The odor of 1-pyrroline resembles very closely that of human semen, and possibly represents a vestigial pheromone. It is suggested that this specific anosmia corresponds with the absence of a new olfactory primary, the “spermous” odor. The same odor occurs as an impurity in several organic reagents and can be detected in a variety of biological materials.

Key words

odor thresholds primary odor 1-pyrroline Schiff's base semen specific anosmia “spermous” odor 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • John E. Amoore
    • 1
  • L. Janet Forrester
    • 1
  • Ron G. Buttery
    • 1
  1. 1.Western Regional Research Laboratory, Agricultural Research ServiceUSDABerkeley

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