Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Bugs Make Chili Spicy

Well, not the actual bugs, but the fungus that tries to enter and attack the chili peppers through the tiny holes made by bugs eating the fruit. And it's technically not made by the fungus; it's a defense mechanism that the peppers developed to keep the fungus at bay. This was discovered by a team of researchers including scientists from the University of Washington.

In my opinion, being spicy is a better survival plan than just trying to grow really fast. In general, being tasty is also a good strategy, since it encourages people to cultivate the plant, multiplying its numbers and helping to ensure its survival. Mmmmm, chili.

Interesting side note: Birds don't feel pain from eating spicy food. The spicy capsaicinoids developed by the chili peppers are especially clever because they keep the fungus out but still allow for the seeds to be consumed and... ah... "distributed" by birds who eat the fruit.

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The header image is adapted from a photo taken by Bill McChesney and used under a creative commons license.
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