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Downside of red-hot chili peppers

In the wild, that culinary kick comes with risks to the plant

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6:27pm, June 19, 2009

MOSCOW, Idaho — Sometimes it’s good to be not so hot.

Capsaicinoid compounds, which give chilies their culinary kick, have the happy effect of discouraging a seed-rotting fungus that grows on plants. But new work has found that protecting seeds has a downside, says David C. Haak of the University of Washington in Seattle. In wild chilies, tests linked pungency with vulnerability to drought and to attacks by ants that devour the seeds, he
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