- Flower Bulb and Perennial Sales Position - Portland (Oregon) USA
- Plant Production Scientist - Brooklyn (NY) USA
- Greenhouse Assistant Grower - Abbotsford (B.C.) Canada
- Technical Sales Representative - South Western Ontario, Canada
- Farm Manager - West Africa
- Managing Agronomist - Surinam
- Vegetal Material Programme Leader - Cisterna di Latina (Latium), Italy
- Head of Sales North America - Sacramento (CA) USA
- Inkoop Specialist Holland Product - Netherlands
- Vegetable Grower - Australia
Top 5 -yesterday
Top 5 -last month
Top 5 -last week
US (IA): How birds help to produce rare wild chili peppers
The donne’ sali chili plant, pictured here, grows wild in the forests of the Mariana Islands with the help of birds that disperse the plant’s seeds. Photo courtesy of Monika Egerer.
Plants and animals that need each other
Organisms depend on each other in intricate and often poorly understood ways, Rogers said, meaning the decline of an animal species may lead to declines in plants with which the animal species shares a mutualistic relationship.
The study focuses on the donne’ sali chili plant, which grows wild in the forests of the Mariana Islands. Birds eat the plant’s peppers and ingest the seeds, then disperse the seeds to other locations through their excrement. The researchers conducted a range of experiments to determine that gut passage improves the odds that chili seeds will germinate. Video footage confirmed which bird species primarily dispersed the seeds, and then the researchers conducted feeding trials with captive birds to obtain gut-passed seeds. The seeds then underwent planting trials to determine how they performed compared to seeds that hadn’t passed through birds.
Passage through starlings improves germination of chili seeds
Fricke said gut passage separates the seeds from the pulp of the chili plants, which improves the likelihood of germination when the seeds settle on the ground. In addition, the researchers found a statistically significant improvement in seed germination separate from pulp removal in seeds passed through a local species of starling. The finding suggests passage through starlings provides some other benefit to the performance of the chili seeds, though identifying the cause wasn’t in the scope of the experiments, Fricke said. In fact, the name of the pepper plants includes the word ‘sali,’ which is the local name for the Micronesian starling.
The island of Guam, which lost its native bird population due to the introduction of an invasive predatory snake after World War II, further illustrates the importance of the mutualistic relationship between birds and the chili plants. Without birds to disperse the seeds, the researchers found much lower chili populations on Guam compared to the other Mariana Islands.
The research team chose to focus on the chili plants in question because of the unique social significance the people of the Mariana Islands place on them. Fricke said the harvested chili plants provide a source of income as well as a delicious ingredient for spicy foods. Fricke said many local residents claim that this type of chili plant is difficult to cultivate, and that cultivated plants don’t pack the same spicy punch as wild plants.
Fricke said public awareness of the importance of pollinating insects in growing crops and other important plants has increased in recent years, while appreciation for other mutualistic interactions such as seed dispersal lags behind. He said he hopes studies like this one begin to turn the tide.
“This study teaches us about a mutualism that directly benefits people and should bolster our reasons to care about conserving biodiversity,” he said. “The loss of a bird in Guam, for instance, can cascade into a negative impact for people who like to eat these spicy chilies.”
Source: Iowa State University
Publication date :
Receive the daily newsletter in your email for free | Click here
Other news in this sector:
- 09/18/2018 Jumping genes drive chromosome changes in strawberries
- 09/18/2018 How a French prince is saving the world from tasteless tomatoes
- 09/17/2018 US (NY): New high-yield strawberry, raspberry varieties released
- 09/06/2018 At breeder TomaTech, it's not just about the tomatoes
- 08/31/2018 US (PA): CRISPR mushroom is changing the dialogue around GMOs
- 08/31/2018 Groundwork for playing with the architecture of plants
- 08/31/2018 How nuclear science helps improve food
- 08/30/2018 ASTA highlights Farm Bill Conference priorities
- 08/30/2018 "Convenience is a trend in breeding"
- 08/23/2018 Crop innovators partner to unlock intrinsic yield and sustainability genes
- 08/22/2018 University of Toronto to develop disease-resistant vegetables
- 08/21/2018 What’s new in sweet potatoes and tomatoes
- 08/20/2018 Turkey: New tomato becomes more tasty under stress
- 08/20/2018 Azerbaijan taking steps for production of vegetable seeds
- 08/17/2018 Canada invests in vegetable breeding research
- 08/16/2018 "Gene-editing startups ignite the next 'Frankenfood' fight"
- 08/15/2018 Next stage for Advanced Berry Breeding
- 08/14/2018 Inari secures $40 million to expand plant breeding technologies
- 08/13/2018 More hot peppers grown in Argentina in recent years
- 08/13/2018 Proteins generate 'wow factors' in fruits and vegetables