You’ve been granted free access to this subscribers only article.
Researchers discover the birthplace of the chili pepper
TUCSON, Ariz. -- 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 United States, 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 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 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 farther south than previously thought.
Nabhan, who holds the Kellogg Endowed Chair in Sustainable Food Systems and is a researcher at the University of Arizona 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.”
Source: University of Arizona News
Your Opinions and Comments
Be the first to comment on this story!
You must be logged in to post a comment.
Agriculture Today Archives
County committee nomination period begins (June 22, 2016)
Hartmann takes the steer by the horns to win state championship (June 22, 2016)
La Vernia FFA wraps up school year with honors, scholarships (June 22, 2016)
Livestock Market Reports (June 22, 2016)
Root rot knocks out roses (June 22, 2016)
TDA Market Recap (June 22, 2016)
Texas Hay Report (June 22, 2016)
A student’s ag-related journey (June 15, 2016)
Family Land Heritage news (June 15, 2016)
Five dirty truths on agriculture (June 15, 2016)
Horseherb galloping through yards (June 15, 2016)
Kristin Storey: South Texas queen to compete for national title (June 15, 2016)
Livestock Market Reports (June 15, 2016)
Miller announces assistance for farmers devastated by floods (June 15, 2016)
No “rain, rain, go away” as precipitation persists (June 15, 2016)
Schwartz takes lead as Texas state veterinarian (June 15, 2016)
TDA Market Recap (June 15, 2016)
Texas Hay Report (June 15, 2016)
Texas Rural Leadership Program (June 15, 2016)
It’s almost rodeo time in Stockdale (June 8, 2016)
Livestock Market Reports (June 8, 2016)
Save seed pods for next fall (June 8, 2016)
TDA Market Recap (June 8, 2016)
Texas Hay Report (June 8, 2016)
Big Time Texas Hunts entries now on sale (June 1, 2016)
Burbridge leads the way in Buck Taylor roping event (June 1, 2016)
Farm Bureau solicits AgLead, FarmLead participants (June 1, 2016)
June 2016 Gardening Calendar (June 1, 2016)
Livestock Market Reports (June 1, 2016)
Save squash from vine borers (June 1, 2016)
State Farm Bureau testifies on agricultural use valuation (June 1, 2016)
TDA Market Recap (June 1, 2016)
Texas Hay Report (June 1, 2016)