How habanero peppers respond to stress

Like people, plants have to cope with stress. The impact on humans is well cataloged, but less is known about how stressors — including high salinity and lack of nutrients — affect plants such as habaneros. Now, researchers report in ACS Agricultural Science & Technology that these conditions change the levels of natural compounds in the peppers. The results could have ramifications for growing peppers and for their shelf life after harvest.

Habaneros are prized for their aroma and flavor, which combine a citrusy and smoky taste with an extra-hot kick. That heat comes from capsaicinoid compounds, but peppers also contain vitamins, carotenoids, flavonoids, phenolic compounds, and other metabolites that contribute to the fruit’s flavor, as well as its antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. The peppers are an important crop in Mexico, but environmental conditions in the region aren’t optimal, with low levels of nitrogen and phosphorus and high levels of salt in the soil. In a prior study, Rocío I. Díaz de la Garza and colleagues assessed the effect of these stresses on pepper growth and the levels of a few of their metabolites. In the current research, de la Garza, Carlos Rodríguez-López, and coworkers went much deeper, evaluating the effect of these conditions on thousands of metabolites in the fruits.

Read more at eurekalert.org


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