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Petrichor

If you've lived outside a major city, the smell is instantly recognisable — the earthy scent of petrichor as rain hits dry soil. Now, new research has uncovered why it's not just us humans who are attracted to this incredibly pleasant odour. That luscious smell we can detect after rain comes from an organic compound called geosmin , which is produced by microbes, including the bacteria genus Streptomyces. We also know that Streptomyces releases geosmin when they die, and that humans and other creatures are particularly attuned to it. The question, of course, is - why does this happen? An international team of researchers set out to explain why bacteria produce geosmin, and whether any other creatures were able to enjoy the smell as much as we do. The team did a number of experiments both in the field and in the lab to see the effects of geosmin and another compound called 2-methylisoborneol 2-MIB on forest creatures, particularly springtails - tiny arthropods with a tail-like appendage, which live in organic materials such as leaf litter on a forest floor. Turns out that springtails are big fans of geosmin. They can sense it with their antennae, are attracted to it, and will feed on the Streptomyces producing it. But why would a bacterium go to so much effort just to be slurped up by an arthropod?
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To save this word, you'll need to log in. According to the authors, "The diverse nature of the host material has led us to propose the name 'petrichor' for this apparently unique odour which can be regarded as an 'ichor' or 'tenuous essence' derived from rock or stone. See more words from the same year From the Editors at Merriam-Webster. We Added New Words to the Dictionary in We Added New Words to the Dictionary in April More than new words, from 'bioabsorbable' to 'bottle episode' Words We're Watching: 'Petrichor' Words We're Watching: 'Petrichor' Aka, the scent released when rain hits dry earth Dictionary Entries near petrichor petrel petrescent petri- petrichor Petricola Petricolidae petricolous. Accessed 16 Aug. Comments on petrichor What made you want to look up petrichor? Please tell us where you read or heard it including the quote, if possible. Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way. Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

The phenomenon was first scientifically described in a March paper by Australian researchers Isabel Bear and Dick Thomas , published in the journal Nature. During rain, the oil is released into the air along with another compound, geosmin , a metabolic by-product of certain actinobacteria , which is emitted by wet soil, producing the distinctive scent; ozone may also be present if there is lightning. Long before this phenomenon received its name in , it had been noticed and discussed in scientific circles. Phipson continues, "I find, on referring to my old notes, which are dated , that it is doubtful whether I ever published the results of these observations; and as the distinguished chemists I have just named have not quite solved the problem, I hasten to give the results I obtained so long ago. After attempts to isolate it, he found that it " In , scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIT used high-speed cameras to record how the scent moves into the air. Actinomycetes is the bacterium responsible for producing spores in soil. The human nose is extremely sensitive to geosmin and is able to detect it at concentrations as low as 5 parts per trillion. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the play, see Scent of Rain.

To save this word, you'll need to log in. According to the authors, "The diverse nature of the host material has led us to propose the name 'petrichor' for this apparently unique odour which can be regarded as an 'ichor' or 'tenuous essence' derived from rock or stone.

See more words from the same year From the Editors at Merriam-Webster. We Added New Words to the Dictionary in We Added New Words to the Dictionary in April More than new words, from 'bioabsorbable' to 'bottle episode' Words We're Watching: 'Petrichor' Words We're Watching: 'Petrichor' Aka, the scent released when rain hits dry earth Dictionary Entries near petrichor petrel petrescent petri- petrichor Petricola Petricolidae petricolous.

Accessed 16 Aug. Comments on petrichor What made you want to look up petrichor? Please tell us where you read or heard it including the quote, if possible. Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way. Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free! Or can it only be art? And how did it get that name? How to Remember the Spelling of 'Definitely' A definitive answer. Literally How to use a word that literally drives some people nuts.

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Login or Register. Save Word. Log In. Definition of petrichor. First Known Use of petrichor , in the meaning defined above. Keep scrolling for more. Learn More about petrichor. Time Traveler for petrichor The first known use of petrichor was in See more words from the same year. From the Editors at Merriam-Webster. Statistics for petrichor Look-up Popularity.

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