New York, April 23:
Farming of chili ( also spelt as chilli) peppers, the most widely cultivated spice crop that have conquered cuisines around the world, was born in central-east Mexico, says a study.
The researchers relied on genetic, archaeological, linguistic and ecological evidence to discover the hotspots where farmers first cultivated Capsicum annuum, the most common kind of chili pepper, the study added.
“Identifying the origin of the chili pepper is not just an academic exercise,” said Paul Gepts, a plant scientist at the University of California, Davis.
“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,” Gepts said.
Genetic material from dozens of samples of farm-raised and wild chili peppers seemed to point to northeastern Mexico as the origin of domestication for C. annuum, the researchers found.
But the scientists also looked at archaeological evidence for the peppers and ecological predictions of where the plant might have grown in climates of the past.
The results of the study appeared in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.