Scientists discover a soil fungus that neutralizes skunk odor

The smelly compounds that skunks squirt when threatened are called thiols and are notorious hard to eliminate from humans and dogs who get spray with them. Tomato juice merely temporarily overpowers the stench, and commercial products are mostly junk or dangerous. But researchers recently discovered a fungal compound in Alaskan soil that actually neutralizes thiols, reports Chemical and Engineering News:

The researchers reacted pericosine A with different skunk thiols and found that it converted them into odorless compounds, reducing the thiol levels to a point at which they were undetectable by the human nose.

There's nothing like skunk odor, [Robert H. Cichewicz, a natural products chemist at the University of Oklahoma] says, to expose the shortcomings of a lab's hood system. And once he made the mistake of wafting his hand over a sample of pure anal gland secretions. It was, he says, "the nasal equivalent of staring at the sun."

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