Agriculture & Natural Resources
Non Technical Summary
Capsaicin is a major nutritional, medicinal, and food product of Capsicum peppers, which also produce antioxidants. Capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin account for the hotness or pungency of the peppers. Antioxidants are another complex group of beneficial compounds that neutralize reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS are molecules that destroy metabolic compounds, organelles, cells, and even tissues and cause physiological diseases. The objectives of this project are to (1) Measure and characterize the production, transport and storage of capsaicin in Capsicum peppers; (2) Measure and characterize the production of antioxidants in Capsicum peppers and related Solanaceae species; and (3) Characterize the response of Capsicum species to sulfur and selected nutritional requirements. Although Capsicum fruits have been sampled in many ways, including selective extractions, fluorescence (spectral) imaging is a more novel and non-destructive approach to observe and record intricate
phases of development as well as biochemical events that result in the synthesis, accumulation and transport, and storage of capsaicin, antioxidants and similar products in plant tissues. Preliminary stereofluorescence studies of Bell and Habenero peppers by this team have begun to discern patterns and mechanisms that foster the production of molecules that are increasingly popular as food, spice, medicines, and even molecules for biosecurity purposes. One graduate student and undergraduate students will participate in this research project. To reach stakeholders and the public, outreach programs with peppers in exhibitions and competitions will be held with our collaborators in the Extension Division of the College.
Animal Health Component
Research Effort Categories
Goals / Objectives
1. Characterization of capsaicin distribution in different cells, tissues and organs by fluorescence spectroscopy and other microscopic and biochemical techniques. We would also investigate the morpho-physiological, enzymatic, and other biochemical changes that occur during the growth and development of Capsicum pepper fruits. Polyphenol oxidase (PPO) is one enzyme that is evident of plant stress in peppers (Vuljaj, Karmaus, and Gutterid, 2002). 2. Measurement of antioxidants in Capsicum species, and determination of processes, trends and comparative production of antioxidants and capsaicin in peppers, as they develop and produce other important plant biomolecules. 3. Determination of comparative difference of total antioxidant and total polyphenol antioxidant content among Capsicum pepper species and cultivars to correlate the results with physiological and morphological changes that affect their productivity. This is in response to the need to secure such data to
explain the accumulation, translocation and storage of capsaicin and antioxidants in fruit tissues of Capsicum pepper plant species.
1. Field Experimentation: Capsicum pepper species would be planted to various experiments per the objectives of this study, and tissue samples would be collected and analyzed to determine the production of capsaicin and antioxidants during the growth and development of the different species of plants. 2. Greenhouse Studies: Inquiries that deserve further study would be extended to experiments in the greenhouse to maintain viable tissues and obtain samples for more detailed analyses of any objectives that deserve further investigation after field work. 3. Tissue Culture (In Vitro Biology) Studies: In vitro studies afford virtually complete control of external ingredients and factors, and such work would provide plant and fruit tissues that would be evaluated with controlled nutrient inputs and under specific environmental conditions. 4. Fluorescence Microscopy Studies: Fluorescence imaging would provide for clear demarcation of tissues by compound and tissue staining,
providing for time-sequence categorization of the accumulation, transportation and storage of capsaicin and antioxidants in the pepper fruit. 5. Chemical Analyses and Bioassays would be carried out to confirm the level of accumulation of capsaicin and various antioxidants in Capsicum pepper fruit types. The Beacon Analytical System, Inc. immunoassay system for capsaicin would be used, and the Sigma Corporation (Sigma, MO) total antioxidant and phenolic antioxidant kit would also be used to characterize the accumulation of capsaicin and antioxidants.