Native peoples in the Americas have been breeding chilies for their flavor and spice long before the invention of refrigerators .We have now cultivated five very different species of chilies, and even pinpointed the substance responsible for spice, a long compound called capsaicin (cap-SAY-sin).Humans eat capsaicin in abundance, and even synthesize it for topical creams to relieve the symptoms of psoriasis and arthritis.glabrusculum), along with some non-spicy chili varieties from a Bolivian species called Capscium chacoense in feeding trials with birds and rodents.The results showed that cactus mice and packrats avoid spicy fruits, but birds like the curve-billed thrasher eat them like candy.When capsaicin binds to this receptor channel, it triggers calcium ions to enter nearby neurons.Consumption by thrashers, on the other hand, “resulted in germination rates similar to those of control seeds” (Tewksbury et al, 2001).Nonetheless, the team set about finding wild populations of Capsicum chacoense, and discovered a story with far more characters than they were expecting.The first critter that did correlate with chili spice was a small insect in a related group called the Hemiptera.An insect, Acroleucus coxalis, uses its proboscis, a specialized tongue, to suck juice from a wild chili pepper, Capsicum chacoense.The team had done much to explain why chilies evolved to make capsaicin, but why some plants made no spice was still a mystery.The molecule is relatively large and contains lots of precious nitrogen, which is critical for building proteins and DNA.When plants receive enough water, the advantage disappears and the spicy and non-spicy chilies make an equal number of seeds again.Cat Adams is a first year PhD student in the Organismal and Evolutionary Biology program at Harvard University.1) Perry, Linda et al. “Starch Fossils and the Domestication and Dispersal of Chili Peppers (Capsicum spp. .
A Perk of Our Evolution: Pleasure in Pain of Chilies
I marveled at the uncountable number of artisanal hot sauces on the market, and at the frequency with which the words “death,” “nuclear” and “devil” were used in the names.This chest-beating may be particular to the United States, where one hot sauce maker actually markets a limited edition of pure capsaicin.In places like Central America, Asia and the Indian subcontinent, hot chili peppers are an integral part of the cuisine.A recent study suggested that capsaicin is an effective defense against a fungus that attacks chili seeds.Chili pungency is not technically a taste; it is the sensation of burning, mediated by the same mechanism that would let you know that someone had set your tongue on fire.No one knows for sure why humans would find pleasure in pain, but Dr. Rozin suggests that there’s a thrill, similar to the fun of riding a roller coaster. .
DNA sequence analysis tells the truth of the origin, propagation, and
The theory in question claims that Latin American chili (aji) passed through India and Japan before being introduced to Korea through the 1592 Japanese invasions.This paper aims to correct this misconception through scientific analysis and ultimately restore the truth about the history and culture of Korean fermented foods. .
The cool science of hot peppers
He also happens to enjoy eating hot, spicy food.Chili peppers do much more than burn people’s mouths.These will make the skin redden and sweat.Hot peppers actually make food safer to eat.The cold temperature inside a refrigerator stops most microbes from growing.Chilies were.Their capsaicin and other chemicals, it turns out, can slow or stop microbial growth.Before refrigerators, people living in most hot parts of the world developed a taste for spicy foods.But people who ate the spicy food tended to get sick less often.The heat of a chili pepper is not actually a taste.That burning feeling comes from the body’s pain response system.Capsaicin inside the pepper activates a protein in people’s cells called TRPV1.The brain then responds by sending a jolt of pain back to the affected part of the body.Biting into a jalapeño pepper has the same effect on the brain as touching a hot stove.Pepper plants likely evolved their fake-out technique to keep certain animals from eating up their fruit, according to Tewksbury’s research.People, mice and other mammals feel the burn when they eat peppers.But most people can safely eat hot peppers.Pain fights pain.It may seem bizarre that what causes pain might also make pain go away.Eventually, the pain will fix this pain system and can once again send pain alerts to the brain.Chili peppers also may help people lose weight.In the body, capsaicin triggers a stress reaction known as the fight-or-flight response.It is as much as 880 times as hot as a jalapeño — so hot that it can actually leave chemical burns on someone’s skin.To fuel the fight-or-flight response, the body burns through stores of fat.Thyagarajan’s team is now working on a capsaicin-based drug aimed at helping obese people — those who have more stored fat than their bodies need — to shed their excess weight.But a group of mice that ate only the high-fat diet became obese.Thyagarajan’s group hopes to start testing its new medication on people soon.A doctor would inject the drug directly into areas with a lot of fatty tissue.Capsaicin may be the most exciting chemical inside a chili pepper, but it isn’t the only reason to spice up your diet.Li’s team is now studying how chilies and other cooking spices change the bacteria living in the human gut.Outside the body, spices help keep dangerous germs from growing on food.Those who ate spicy food six or seven days a week were 14 percent less likely to die during those seven years than were people who ate spices less than once a week.As scientists continue to uncover the secret powers of chili peppers, people will keep spicing up their soups, stews, stir-fries and other favorite dishes.capsaicin The compound in spicy chili peppers that imparts a burning sensation on the tongue or skin.chili pepper A small vegetable pod often used in cooking to make food hot and spicy.(in botany) A chemical that serves as a signaling compound that tells cells of a plant when and how to develop, or when to grow old and die.jalapeño A moderately spicy green chili pepper often used in Mexican cooking.Proteins are an essential part of all living organisms.TRPV1 A type of pain receptor on cells that detects signals about painful heat. .
Genome sequence of the hot pepper provides insights into the
CM334 (hereafter, CM334) by Illumina sequencing of genomic libraries with insert sizes ranging from 180 bp to 20 kb (Supplementary Figs.On the basis of 19-mer analysis, we estimated the size of the genome to be 3.48 Gb (Supplementary Fig.Table 1 Statistics for the hot pepper genome and gene annotation Full size table.The proportion of the genome that was divergent between CM334 and the three other pepper genomes was 0.35, 0.39 and 1.85% (10.9, 11.9 and 56.6 million SNPs for Perennial, Dempsey and C. chinense, respectively) (Supplementary Table 11).Coverage by repeats represents the proportion of total TEs, Gypsy elements and Copia elements of LTRs within 1-Mb intervals.In total, we identified 2.34 and 2.35 Gb (76.4 and 79.6%, respectively) of sequence in the assembled CM334 and C. chinense genomes as TEs (Table 1 and Supplementary Table 20).A large number of Caulimoviridae elements were unique to either pepper genome (Supplementary Table 20).This gene number is approximately the same as for tomato (International Tomato Annotation Group (iTAG) v2.3; 34,771 genes)19 and potato (Potato Genome Sequencing Consortium (PGSC) v3.4; 39,031 genes)20, which suggests a similar gene number in Solanaceae plants (Supplementary Figs.In total, we identified 17,397 orthologous gene sets by comparison of the pepper and tomato genomes.To compare gene expression in the pepper and tomato genomes, we performed RNA-seq analyses of the placenta and pericarp at seven crucial stages of fruit development and compared gene expression in other tissues from these two species (Supplementary Fig.(Supplementary Fig.2a and Supplementary Fig.2b and Supplementary Fig.Of the RT domains encoded by the hot pepper genome, there were 12-fold more from the Gypsy family than from the Copia family, in contrast to the relative numbers observed for other plant genomes such as tomato, maize and barley19,21,22.Figure 2: Analysis of pepper genome expansion compared to the tomato genome.(c) Comparison of copy numbers for Gypsy, Copia and Caulimoviridae elements.(d) Distribution of repeat elements on chromosome 10 in hot pepper and tomato.The graphs above and below each bar show repeat and gene densities, respectively.Of the Gypsy family elements, 83.5% were from the Del subgroup, and these elements accumulated primarily in heterochromatic regions of the hot pepper genome (Fig.2d and Supplementary Figs.However, we often found these Del elements in the collinear regions of the hot pepper genome that correlated with tomato euchromatin, with the insertion of these elements resulting in the formation of heterochromatic gene islands in the hot pepper genome (Fig.The insertion pattern of Del elements may indicate that the hot pepper genome expanded by increasing the size of the existing heterochromatin and converting euchromatin into heterochromatin.2e and Supplementary Fig.Thus, the unequal accumulation of Gypsy elements in heterochromatic regions of the progenitor species may have had a role in the speciation of hot pepper.2d and Supplementary Fig.(c) Microsynteny analysis of the hot pepper sequence containing CS (encoding capsaicin synthase; upper bar) and its collinear tomato sequence (lower bar).(d,e) Models of multiple gene duplications for CS paralogs (d) and their corresponding genes in tomato (e).Using homology, microsynteny and previous reports35, we identified all orthologous genes of the capsaicinoid pathway in the tomato genome (Supplementary Fig.In a comparative transcriptome analysis, several genes in the pathway clearly showed differential expression in pepper and tomato fruits (Fig.3b, Supplementary Fig.In contrast, the orthologous genes in the tomato pathway (BCAT, Kas and CS) were rarely expressed at this stage, and we obtained a similar result for the potato genome (Supplementary Fig.These results may indicate that changes in the gene expression of BCAT, Kas and CS enabled capsaicinoid synthesis in hot pepper fruits.Phylogenetic analysis of the acyltransferase gene family within these regions in hot pepper (seven copies) and tomato (four copies) showed that CS appeared after speciation through multiple gene duplications.Two other genes (Kas and COMT) in the capsaicinoid biosynthetic pathway also underwent unequal gene duplication events similar to those for the orthologous genes in tomato (Supplementary Fig.We compared expression of the capsaicinoid biosynthetic genes in the placentas of pungent and non-pungent peppers.All other genes in the capsaicinoid biosynthetic pathway showed similar expression, except for BCAT, COMT and FatA at 6 d.p.a.This result indicates that non-pungent pepper species appeared because of loss of CS expression without substantial changes in the expression of other genes in the biosynthetic pathway.We identified 23,245 hot pepper genes in 16,345 families, with 7,826 families shared by all 6 species (Supplementary Fig.Variations in family size were found in many hot pepper gene families.Nine transcription factor families had fewer genes (including the AP2/ERF family) compared with other plant genomes, and no transcription factor of the DBP family was found in the hot pepper genome (Supplementary Table 43).A total of 684 genes from the nucleotide-binding site–leucine-rich repeat (NBS-LRR) family were significantly expanded in the pepper genome compared with the other plant genomes (Supplementary Tables 38, 39 and 41).The number of TIR-type proteins in the hot pepper genome (48) was similar to that in potato (47) (Supplementary Table 39).Notably, the Bs2 (bacterial spot resistance gene)41-containing subclass (82 genes) exhibited explosive expansion in the hot pepper genome compared to the tomato (3 genes) and potato (1 gene) genomes.Expansion of NBS-coding genes in the hot pepper genome resulted in the loss of collinearity with tomato or potato in NBS-coding regions, whereas higher synteny was maintained between the NBS-coding regions of tomato and potato (Supplementary Fig.Comparative fruit ripening.Gene repertories related to fruit ripening in hot pepper and tomato are well conserved (Supplementary Table 53), which suggests that a gene regulatory mechanism likely causes differentiation in fruit ripening.Expression of transcription factor genes (RIN43, TAGL1 (ref.44) and NOR45) and genes involved in ethylene signaling pathways (NR46, ETR4 (ref.52) showed distinct expression patterns in hot pepper and tomato (Fig.The major ethylene biosynthetic genes for tomato ripening, including ACS2, ACS4 and ACO1 (ref.Most of the pepper genes in the L-galactose pathway showed expression similar to or higher than in tomato (Supplementary Table 56).compared to in tomato (Supplementary Fig.These data indicate that the L-galactose pathway may be the predominant biosynthetic pathway for ascorbate in hot pepper.
Hot Peppers - Why Are They Hot?
Animals need to eat those plants to survive and plants need not be eaten by animals to survive, so a co-evolutionary arms-race leads to ever more bizzare adaptations by plants to deter the animals and ever more ingenious adaptations by animals to get around the deterrents.But there are other kinds of co-evolution between plants and herbivores.So, they evolved fruits.On one hand, they are boldly colored and sweet-smelling fruits - obvious sign of advertising to herbivores.Mammals avoid hot peppers out in Arizona where Josh studied them (and made videos of their behavior), but the birds gorged on peppers.When he analyzed the droppings of rodents and birds fed peppers, he saw that seeds that passed through avian intestinal tracts were fully fertile, while seeds eaten by mammals were chewed, crushed, broken or semi-digested and not fertile at all.Related: Hot Peppers. .
residues excavated at Chiapa de Corzo in southern Mexico dated from Middle to Late Preclassic periods (400 BC to 300 AD).Capsaicin and related compounds known as capsaicinoids are the substances giving chili peppers their intensity when ingested or applied topically. After the Columbian Exchange, many cultivars of chili pepper spread across the world, used for both food and traditional medicine.Cultivars grown in North America and Europe are believed to all derive from Capsicum annuum, and have white, yellow, red or purple to black fruits.In 2016, the world's production of raw green chili peppers amounted to 34.5 million tons, with China producing half.Peru is the country with the highest cultivated Capsicum diversity because it is a center of diversification where varieties of all five domesticates were introduced, grown, and consumed in pre-Columbian times.Bolivian consumers distinguish two basic forms: ulupicas, species with small round fruits including C. eximium, C.
cardenasii, C. eshbaughii, and C. caballeroi landraces; and arivivis with small elongated fruits including C. baccatum var. China was the world's largest producer of green chilis, providing half of the global total.Capsicum chinense includes the hottest peppers such as the naga, habanero, Datil and Scotch bonnet.In the same species are the jalapeño, the poblano (which when dried is referred to as ancho), New Mexico, serrano, and other cultivars.A display of hot peppers and a board explaining the Scoville scale at a Houston , Texas, grocery store.The substances that give chili peppers their pungency (spicy heat) when ingested or applied topically are capsaicin (8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-nonenamide) and several related chemicals, collectively called capsaicinoids.When a habanero plant is stressed, by absorbing low water for example, the concentration of capsaicin increases in some parts of the fruit. The modern method is a quantitative analysis of SHU using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) to directly measure the capsaicinoid content of a chili pepper variety.Pure capsaicin is a hydrophobic, colorless, odorless, and crystalline-to-waxy solid at room temperature, and measures 16,000,000 SHU.Capsaicin is produced by the plant as a defense against mammalian predators and microbes, in particular a fusarium fungus carried by hemipteran insects that attack certain species of chili peppers, according to one study. Peppers increased the quantity of capsaicin in proportion to the damage caused by fungal predation on the plant's seeds.Chilies are sometimes used whole or in large slices, by roasting, or other means of blistering or charring the skin, so as not to entirely cook the flesh beneath.In India, most households always keep a stock of fresh hot green chilies at hand, and use them to flavor most curries and dry dishes.Fresh or dried chilies are often used to make hot sauce, a liquid condiment—usually bottled when commercially available—that adds spice to other dishes.Hot sauces are found in many cuisines including harissa from North Africa, chili oil from China (known as rāyu in Japan), and sriracha from Thailand.This method lets people experience extreme feelings without any significant risk of bodily harm.Capsaicin, the chemical in chili peppers that makes them hot, is used as an analgesic in topical ointments, nasal sprays, and dermal patches to relieve pain.Capsaicin extracted from chilies is used in pepper sprays and some tear gas formulations as a chemical irritant, for use as less-lethal weapons for control of unruly individuals or crowds.Because the elephants have a large and sensitive olfactory and nasal system, the smell of the chili causes them discomfort and deters them from feeding on the crops.By planting a few rows of the pungent fruit around valuable crops, farmers create a buffer zone through which the elephants are reluctant to pass.They are bricks made of mixing dung and chili, and are burned, creating a noxious smoke that keeps hungry elephants out of farmers' fields.Chili peppers are eaten by birds living in the chili peppers' natural range, possibly contributing to seed dispersal and evolution of the protective capsaicin in chili peppers, as a bird in flight can spread the seeds further away from the parent plant after they pass through its digestive system than any land or tree dwelling mammal could do so under the same circumstances, thus reducing competition for resources.Chile is the most common Spanish spelling in Mexico and several other Latin American countries,  as well as some parts of the United States  and Canada, which refers specifically to this plant and its fruit.is the most common Spanish spelling in Mexico and several other Latin American countries, as well as some parts of the United States and Canada, which refers specifically to this plant and its fruit.Chilli was the original Romanization of the Náhuatl language word for the fruit (chīlli) and is the preferred British spelling according to the Oxford English Dictionary, although it also lists chile and chili as variants.Certain Spanish-speaking countries in South America and the Caribbean, including Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, call the peppers as ají, a word of Taíno origin. The word pepper is also commonly used in the botanical and culinary fields in the names of different types of pungent plants and their fruits.
What is a pepper?And why are some so spicy?In the wild, Capsicum fruits are much smaller than the ones we buy at the farmers market or grocery store.Why then would the plant arm its fruits with fiery capsaicin?As such, the well defended fruits can sit on the plant until they are ripe enough for birds to take them away, spreading seeds via their nutrient rich droppings.Many of us enjoy a dash of spice in our meals and some people even see it as a challenge.All of this has been done to the benefit of the five domesticated species, which today enjoy a nearly global distribution. .