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 "
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.
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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.
In fact, some scientists believe that people inherited their affection for the scent of rain from ancestors who relied on rainy weather for their survival. But what makes rain smell so nice? There are several scents associated with rainfall that people find pleasing. One of these odors, called "petrichor," lingers when rain falls after a prolonged dry spell. Petrichor — the term was coined in by two Australian scientists studying the smells of wet weather — is derived from a pair of chemical reactions. Some plants secrete oils during dry periods, and when it rains, these oils are released into the air.