Research Article

Biosynthesis, regulation, and domestication of bitterness in cucumber

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Science  28 Nov 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6213, pp. 1084-1088
DOI: 10.1126/science.1259215

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Biosynthetic pathway holds roots of domestication

The wild cucumber is a spiky, bitter relative of what we now grow in our gardens. The bitterness comes from cucurbitacin, which helps the plant to ward off herbivores. Cucurbitacin is also useful to people for its anti-tumor properties. Shang et al. have now worked out the biosynthetic pathway of cucurbitacin. Along the way, they discovered genetic traces of the domestication process and unraveled the mystery of why some cucumbers, if grown in chilly conditions, become bitter.

Science, this issue p. 1084

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