In the Southwest, the chili pepper is practically a dietary staple. It gives salsa a spicy crunch, it brings depth to Mexican sauces, and provides an extra kick to Sonoran hot dogs
Plenty of other world cuisines rely on it too, from China to India to Thailand. But Latin America, researchers have confirmed, is where it started.
In a study of global significance, researchers have figured out where the first domesticated chili pepper crop was farmed. University of Arizona ethnobiologist and agroecologist Gary Nabhan and other researchers in the U.S., France and Kenya have determined that the plant was first cultivated in central-east Mexico, likely in the Valley of Tehuacán.
The team's evidence indicates that the first cultivators of the chili pepper inhabited the area about 6,500 years ago. They were speakers of the Oto-Manguean language stock – an ethnic Mexican Indian language that makes up 174 different dialects.
The team's paper, "Multiple Lines of evidence for the Origin of Q:1 Domesticated Chili Pepper, Capsicum annuum, in Mexico," appears in the April 29 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The article is part of a special series of research papers PNAS just published on different aspects of domestication, including plant and animal domestication.
Led by University of California, Davis, plant scientist Paul Gepts, the international team determined that the crop's region of origin extended from the area that is now southern Puebla and northern Oaxaca to southeastern Veracruz, and was further south than previously thought.
"Identifying the origin of the chili pepper is not just an academic exercise," said Gepts, lead author of another paper PNAS released in the series. "By tracing back the ancestry of any domesticated plant, we can better understand the genetic evolution of that species."
Nabhan, who holds the Kellogg Endowed Chair in Sustainable Food Systems and is a researcher at the UA Southwest Center, noted that this new knowledge "better equips us to develop sound genetic conservation programs."
For the current study, the team employed a novel and innovative approach, using multiple lines of evidence to pinpoint where humans first cultivated the chili pepper. The team used two traditional investigative approaches, relying on archaeological and genetic data.
The team's scientific methods and findings have important implications for understanding nutrition-related diseases, the use of crops for health-related benefits and crop production and resiliency into the future.
"Chilies are one of the most important spices in the world, and are an important part of our cultural legacy," Nabhan said.
"We are helping scientists all around the world to understand the ecological, cultural and historical relationships of something that affects anyone that uses chilies."
UA Southwest Center
University of California, Davis
Department of Plant Sciences
Gary Nabhan | UA News
Transport of molecular motors into cilia
28.03.2017 | Aarhus University
Asian dust providing key nutrients for California's giant sequoias
28.03.2017 | University of California - Riverside
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
28.03.2017 | Life Sciences
28.03.2017 | Information Technology
28.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy