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Bittersweet fruits

Chemicals that make chili peppers hot also protect them from microbial attack

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5:59pm, August 11, 2008

Some do not like it hot — including a fungus that rots the flesh of chili peppers, data from lab experiments and field studies show. The new research provides convincing evidence that the bitter and sometimes toxic chemicals found in many fruits serve to prevent microbial attack — a popular idea that has been difficult to demonstrate.

From a plant’s point of view, a fruit is any product of plant sex. A fruit’s job is to bear seeds, and move them away from the parent plant (maple helicopters, poppy heads and milkweed pods are all fruits). Plants that make fleshy fruits, such as pepper

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