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, 412 (6845), 403-4

Seed Dispersal. Directed Deterrence by Capsaicin in Chilies

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Seed Dispersal. Directed Deterrence by Capsaicin in Chilies

J J Tewksbury et al. Nature.

Abstract

The primary function of ripe, fleshy fruit is to facilitate seed dispersal by attracting consumers, yet many fruits contain unpleasant-tasting chemicals that deter consumption by vertebrates. Here we investigate this paradox in the chili (Capsicum) and find that capsaicin, the chemical responsible for the fruit's peppery heat, selectively discourages vertebrate predators without deterring more effective seed dispersers.

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