Volume 94 Issue 48 | pp. 10-11 | Concentrates
Issue Date: December 5, 2016

Bitterness in wild cucumber, melon, and watermelon

Researchers track down biosynthetic genes responsible for the unpalatable flavors and how human domestication eliminated them
Department: Science & Technology
Keywords: agriculture, food, bitter, cucumber, melon, watermelon

When cucumbers, muskmelons, and watermelons grow in the wild, their fruit contains bitter cucurbitacin molecules, a family of highly oxygenated tetracyclic triterpenes that deter pests from foraging. Although these defense compounds evolved in the plants millions of years ago, humans have bred them out of the fruits to make them more appealing to our palate. A team of researchers led by Yi Shang and Sanwen Huang of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural . . .

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