Take Two®

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

New research pinpoints geographic origin of chili pepper

by Take Two®

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New research out of UC Davis traces the family tree of the domesticated chili pepper back to a region of east central Mexico. In modern cuisine around the globe, the chili pepper figures prominently in varieties from sichuan to habanero. But all have a common ancestor cultivated by the ancient peoples of Mexico.

A team of scientists used genetic data, archaeological clues, ecological evidence and a new approach involving linguistic study of ancient languages, to pinpoint the region where the chili likely originated. Lead study author Paul Gepts, a professor of plant sciences at UC Davis, joins the show to explain.

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