Skip to comments.Birthplace of the domesticated chili pepper identified in Mexico
Posted on 04/18/2014 9:49:58 AM PDT by Red Badger
Central-east Mexico gave birth to the domesticated chili peppernow the world's most widely grown spice cropreports an international team of researchers, led by a plant scientist at the University of California, Davis.
Results from the four-pronged investigationbased on linguistic and ecological evidence as well as the more traditional archaeological and genetic datasuggest 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 agriculturea 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.
Now here is a hot topic.
Interesting article. It is amusing to note that extremely tenuous tie in they make to climate change. Of course that is because anything which talks AGW gets to open the federal spigot.
On further research, I stand corrected. The chinese plant the hell out of these; I had supposed that Chinese use of chili peppers was a “Chinese-American” thing, like General Tso chicken.
:: Study co-author Gary P. Nabhan, an ethnobiologist and agroecologist ::
Why, oh why, for the love of gaia, did I get a degree in “chemistry”?
I could have specialized in agro-bio-theo-micro-nuclear-physical-chemistry! Woe is me.
The chili pepper? That narrows it down./ extreme sarcasm
LOL. I ‘narrowed down’ my pepper plantings this year. I’ve only got ~45 varieties this go around.
I am growing one of the tepin varieties from native seeds though. And something called Zia Pueblo.
How many varieties at your house this year?
Thailand, Ireland, and Italy, what the heck did those people eat before hot peppers, potatoes and tomatoes.
Is the black pepper from India a capsicum or a piper nigra?
India grows a lot of peppers as well.
Life was tougher back in those days. People got an arm chopped off and they treated it as a mere flesh wound (or so I saw in a British Documentary about the Black Knight, and King Arthur, and some dangerous bunny rabbit...). Half the population would get wiped out by the Plague and it would be treated with a shoulder shrug.
I’m just glad that spell check worked on potatoes and tomatoes.
Surprised to see the number of health benefits tied to this pepper...wife will be ‘thrilled’.
“I’m guessing this refers only to Capsicum annuum, (bell, jalapeno, chilli and related peppers)”
Since the title says “chili” I would guess that also ...
“The chinese plant the hell out of these; I had supposed that Chinese use of chili peppers was a Chinese-American thing,”
When I had Dish, I used to watch the Chinese channels a lot. There was a game show based upon which contestant could eat the hottest food. It was hilarious! One time the had “cookies” that were made of flour of ground chilies! That’s all that was in them! Contestants would shed articles of clothing in attempts to cool down.