UCF Botanical Society to Create Improved Peppers Through Plant Breeding Project

The UCF Botanical Society is working on a plant breeding initiative to create a great tasting pepper with medicinal value. The Plant Breeding Initiative, a project of the Department of Biology, is carried out by students in the plant sciences sector. Chase Mason, associate professor of biology and academic advisor, said the project involves combining phenotypic and genotypic data to make targeted crosses.

Mason said phenotypic data refers to the physical traits of an organism and genotypic data refers to a set of DNA responsible for those unique traits. The exchange makes it possible to cross specific traits and characteristics of the pepper.

The project began in 2019 when Mason said the group first decided which plant to grow. “The first year was kind of a year of planning; we weren’t sure what we should be working on,” Mason said. “So what I asked the students to do was come up with a hundred ideas and narrow them down, so we came up with peppers. Mainly because it was easy to grow, good for this climate , truly diverse, culinary and culturally significant on a global scale.”

Mason said the pepper choices weren’t wasted. He added that in addition to the ease of cultivation of this type of plant, it is culturally important for many types of countries. “We’re in Central Florida, which is a very diverse area, and there are a lot of awesome food traditions that have come together in Central Florida,” Mason said. “And peppers are important to a lot of them, whether you’re talking about South Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, and South America. All kinds of peppers are used differently, so it seemed relevant.”

Read the full article at www.nicholsonstudentmedia.com.