Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Birthplace of the domesticated chili pepper identified in Mexico

Date:
April 21, 2014
Source:
University of California - Davis
Summary:
Combining historical language and ecological information, as well as genetic and archaeological data, scientists have identified Central-east Mexico as the likely birthplace of the domesticated chili pepper.

Peppers. Central-east Mexico gave birth to the domesticated chili pepper -- now the world's most widely grown spice crop -- reports an international team of researchers, led by a plant scientist at the University of California, Davis.
Credit: © duckman76 / Fotolia

Central-east Mexico gave birth to the domesticated chili pepper -- now the world's most widely grown spice crop -- reports an international team of researchers, led by a plant scientist at the University of California, Davis.

Related Articles


Results from the four-pronged investigation -- based on linguistic and ecological evidence as well as the more traditional archaeological and genetic data -- suggest a regional, rather than a geographically specific, birthplace for the domesticated chili pepper. That region, extending from southern Puebla and northern Oaxaca to southeastern Veracruz, is further south than was previously thought, the researchers found.

The region also is different from areas of origin that have been suggested for common bean and corn, which were presumably domesticated in Western Mexico.

The study findings will be published online April 21 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, as part of a series of research papers on plant and animal domestication.

Crop domestication, the process of selectively breeding a wild plant or animal species, is of increasing interest to scientists.

"Identifying the origin of the chili pepper is not just an academic exercise," said UC Davis plant scientist Paul Gepts, the study's senior author. "By tracing back the ancestry of any domesticated plant, we can better understand the genetic evolution of that species and the origin of agriculture -- a major step in human evolution in different regions of the world," he said.

"This information, in turn, better equips us to develop sound genetic conservation programs and increases the efficiency of breeding programs, which will be critically important as we work to deal with climate change and provide food for a rapidly increasing global population," Gepts added.

Study co-author Gary P. Nabhan, an ethnobiologist and agroecologist at the University of Arizona's Southwest Center noted: "This is the first research ever to integrate multiple lines of evidence in attempts to pinpoint where, when, under what ecological conditions, and by whom a major global spice plant was domesticated.

"In fact, this may be the only crop-origins research to have ever predicted the probable first cultivators of one of the world's most important food crops," Nabhan said.

To determine crop origins, scientists have traditionally studied the plants' genetic makeup in geographic areas where they have observed high diversity among the crop's wild ancestors. More recently, they have also examined archaeological remains of plants, including pollen, starch grains and even mineralized plant secretions.

For this chili pepper study, the researchers used these two traditional approaches but also considered historical languages, looking for the earliest linguistic evidence that a cultivated chili pepper existed.

They also developed a model for the distribution of related plant species, to predict the areas most environmentally suitable for the chili pepper and its wild ancestors.

The genetic evidence seemed to point more to northeastern Mexico as the chili pepper's area of domestication; however there was collectively more evidence from all four lines of study supporting the central-east region as the area of origin.

Other researchers on the study were Kraig H. Kraft and Robert J. Hijmans, both of UC Davis; Cecil H. Brown of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill.; Eike Luedeling of the World Agroforestry Centre in Nairobi, Kenya; José de Jesús Luna Ruiz of the Universidad Autónoma de Aguascalientes in Aguascalientes, Mex.; and Geo Coppens d'Eeckenbrugge of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Montpellier, France.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Davis. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kraig H. Kraft, Cecil H. Brown, Gary P. Nabhan, Eike Luedeling, José de Jesús Luna Ruiz, Geo Coppens d’Eeckenbrugge, Robert J. Hijmans, and Paul Gepts. Multiple lines of evidence for the origin of domesticated chili pepper, Capsicum annuum, in Mexico. PNAS, April 21, 2014 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1308933111

Cite This Page:

University of California - Davis. "Birthplace of the domesticated chili pepper identified in Mexico." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140421093925.htm>.
University of California - Davis. (2014, April 21). Birthplace of the domesticated chili pepper identified in Mexico. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140421093925.htm
University of California - Davis. "Birthplace of the domesticated chili pepper identified in Mexico." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140421093925.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) — A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins