Singapore, Oct 10 (IANS) A team of Singapore scientists has discovered the truth behind the durian tropical fruit's pungent aroma deemed as one of nature's smelliest secrets, the media reported on Tuesday.

The five-man team of cancer scientists have found an odour gene which gives the thorny fruit its notoriously pungent scent which is often compared to rotten eggs, reports the BBC.

After three years of research, privately funded by a group of anonymous durian lovers, the scientists now have a complete genetic map of the fruit, a world first.

Their findings were published in academic journal Nature Genetics.

"Our analysis revealed that volatile sulphur production is turbocharged in durians, which fits with many people's opinions that durian smell has a 'sulphury' aspect," geneticist Patrick Tan, who co-led the study, said on Monday.

The researchers said the durian's distinctive odour served an important purpose to it in the wild: helping to attract animals to eat it and disperse its seeds.

Odours aside, the durian's ancestry was also revealed, believed to be dating back an estimated 65 million years to the cacao plant from where we get chocolate, the BBC reported.

Grown in many countries across tropical South East Asia, the spiky, stinky durian is an acquired taste.

The fruit is loved and loathed in equal measure. Eating durian is banned in many outdoor spaces throughout Singapore and carrying it is prohibited on public transport because of its smell.

--IANS

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