Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UA Researcher and Colleagues Discover the Birthplace of the Chili Pepper

23.04.2014

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."

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Gary Nabhan

UA Southwest Center

520-621-2484

gpnabhan@email.arizona.edu

Paul Gepts

University of California, Davis

Department of Plant Sciences

530-752-7743

plgepts@ucdavis.edu

Gary Nabhan | UA News
Further information:
http://www.arizona.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cells communicate in a dynamic code
19.02.2018 | California Institute of Technology

nachricht Studying mitosis' structure to understand the inside of cancer cells
19.02.2018 | Biophysical Society

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Contacting the molecular world through graphene nanoribbons

19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences

When Proteins Shake Hands

19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences

Cells communicate in a dynamic code

19.02.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>