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Hot Peppers and Artificial Selection - Kesler Science Weekly Phenomenon &  Graph

The world of hot peppers is WILD. In 2007, the hybrid Ghost pepper from India was the hottest pepper in the world. It was dethroned by the infamous Carolina Reaper pepper in 2013. In October 2023, a new pepper called "Pepper X" claimed the world title - it's about 1000 times hotter than a jalapeno!  🥵

This is a great connection to artificial selection that students might enjoy because of shows like Hots Ones. Who doesn't like to watch celebrities cry over their chicken wings? 😆 Using the same process that brought us goldendoodles, pepper growers create hybrid varieties of peppers that combine the best characteristics of two types of peppers. They also select the hottest peppers from one generation and keep those seeds to grow the next generation. It takes about 10 generations before an unusual pepper trait, like extreme heat, becomes a consistent trait in the population.

Check out the graph below to see how artificial selection has affected the heat levels of peppers!

Heat of Peppers in Scoville Heat Units(2)

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