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Spanish researchers create most complete genetic map of peppers

The most complete genetic map of peppers cultivated in Spain has been created by Valencia's Polytechnic University (UPV). The results make it possible to learn the smallest detail of this crop, of which Spain is one of the main worldwide producers. And more importantly, they establish the bases for obtaining new landraces with better organoleptic properties, and which may even be more resistant to climate change.

"This study provides complete and relevant information on the origin and the relationships between local Spanish landraces. It also helps prevent fraud, as well as cross-breeding in improvement programs, in order to achieve practically on-demand peppers; for example, with more flavor, stronger colors or better resistance to pathogens or extreme climatic conditions," explains Adrián Rodríguez Burruezo, researcher at the Institute for the Conservation and Improvement of Valencian Agrodiversity (COMAV) of the UPV.

The pepper (Capsicum annuum) is one of the most important vegetable crops in Spain. However, the genetic studies that had been done heretofore had been of a smaller scope compared to those conducted on other Solanaceae varieties such as tomatoes, potatoes or aubergines.

In this study, which is part of the doctoral dissertation of Leandro Pereira, the COMAV UPV researchers analyzed a collection of 190 pepper landraces—183 from cultivated species and 7 wild forms. Among the analyzed landraces were all the Spanish designations of origin, including the thick and sweet ones (Morrón bell peppers) and Valencian peppers, Trompa de Vaca, Largo de Reus, Morrón de Fresno y Benavente, de Infantes, de Asar vascos, etc,  and even types to be canned or processed, such as Piquillo, Bierzo, Riojano, Ñora/Bola de Murcia, Jaranda de la Vera, Gernika/choricreo, chili, Padrón, the yellow pepper of Mallorca or the white pepper of Villena, etc.

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