WVSU Researchers Turn Up the Heat with Pepper Projects

Contact: Kimberly Osborne
(304) 766-3363
March 31, 2014
WVSU Researchers Turn Up the Heat with Pepper Projects
INSTITUTE, W.Va. – How hot do you like your peppers? Research conducted by scientists at West Virginia State University (WVSU) is taking that question one step further to determine the genetic factors in peppers that control aspects such as heat and sweetness. This and other research led by WVSU has already been published in four leading scientific journals in 2014.

Vegetable genomic work led by Drs. Umesh K. Reddy and Padma Nimmakayala is featured in recent issues of the journals PLOS ONE, Molecular Genetics and Genomics, and Molecular Breeding. Reddy also published an article in the Environmental and Experimental Botany Journal.

“This pepper genomic research brought new answers to the questions of how genes in peppers make them either very hot, moderate or sweet, and what genes alter the size of the pepper fruit,” said Reddy. “This research will greatly impact the public and private vegetable breeding endeavors to develop high yielding and value-added vegetable varieties.”

The pair has also starting researching why watermelons grown in the United States are more susceptible to a variety of diseases, Reddy said. 

In addition to his pepper and watermelon research, Reddy also studies the genus of grasses Sorghum. His published article examines the physiological differences among Sorghum genotypes under high temperature stress and how that impacts grain yield.

Pepper research was conducted in collaboration with Professor Doil Choi of Seoul National University, South Korea. Watermelon research was conducted in collaboration with Drs. Todd Wehner of North Carolina State University and Amnon Levi of the United States National Vegetable Research Laboratory, located at the USDA Agricultural Research Station in Charleston, S.C.

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West Virginia State University is a public, land grant, historically black university, which has evolved into a fully accessible, racially integrated, and multigenerational institution, located in Institute, W.Va. As a “living laboratory of human relations,” the university is a community of students, staff, and faculty committed to academic growth, service and preservation of the racial and cultural diversity of the institution. Its mission is to meet the higher education and economic development needs of the state and region through innovative teaching and applied research.
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