hot peppers from cold

Janice M. Glime jmglime at MTU.EDU
Sat Feb 15 14:28:24 EST 1997


  I have no evidence of what is happening in the peppers, but let me pose
a hypothesis for the biochemists out there to refute or support.
  We know that in some plants (jasmine? - the compound has jasmine in its
name, but I can't recall the exact name), neighboring plants, even of
different species, are stimulated to produce this antiherbivore compound
by the presence of the compound in the air.  The hot pepper irritant can
certainly diffuse through the air during cooking, and may likewise do so
at lower concentrations in the garden.  My hypothesis is that the hot
pepper has a non-inducible system that turns on the irritant (peppery
taste) as the fruit ages and that the non-hot pepper has an inducible
system that normally does not get turned on.  When the hot pepper turns on
the irritant, that irritant then induces the non-hot pepper to turn on its
system.
  Can someone offer any evidence regarding the peppery compound(s) and
biochemistry of the two species to refute, support, or address the
feasibility of this hypothesis?
Janice
***********************************
 Janice M. Glime, Professor  
 Department of Biological Sciences
 Michigan Technological University
 Houghton, MI 49931-1295
 jmglime at mtu.edu
 906-487-2546
 FAX 906-487-3167 
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