• If you need help identifying a pepper, disease, or plant issue, please post in Identification.

breeding How to Break the Record for the World’s Hottest Pepper

How to Break the Record for the World’s Hottest Pepper

There can be only one World’s Hottest. This article will attempt to give pointers to help you go from seed to Guinness World Record. This document is evolving and suggestions are welcomed to improve and refine.

Step 1: Selecting Parent Genetics
There are only two spots in the world where super hots come from - Trinidad and Tobago, and Indian and Bangladesh. All of the hundreds and hundreds of modern super hot strains are really just recombinations of these two landrace pepper lineages.
I have a hypothesis that combining these two lineages is capable of producing even hotter peppers through additive genetics. As an oversimplified hypothetical example, perhaps genes related to the capsaicin biosynthesis pathway are on chromosome 1 for an Indian pepper (like bhut jolokia) and similar genes are on chromosome 2 for a Trinidadian pepper (like 7 pot). After a cross, some of the offspring might have both of those gene copies, thus producing even more capsaicin. The reaper, primo, nagabrain, naga viper, bhutlah and many of the other world’s hottest were purportedly produced through these East/West crosses from Indian and Trinidad.
If this hypothesis is correct, it would explain why breeding closely related super hot peppers typically doesn’t produce a hotter pepper. Many of the genes are in the same location and crossing them only swaps copies, not adds them together.
  • Trinidadian Landrace Super Hots
  • Trinidad Moruga scorpion
  • 7 pot
  • 7 pot brian strain
  • Douglah
  • Trinidad scorpion
Indian/Bangladeshi Landrace Super Hots
  • Bhut jolokia
  • Bhut assam
  • Dorset naga
  • Naga morich
  • Raja mirch
Don’t let this discourage you from trying your own cross, though. Get creative and try something no one has ever done before! Or, try something that has been done a bunch of times - it will still produce something unique!
Similar to the above method of crossing genetically distant Trinidadian and Indian peppers, I have it on good word that adding fatalii peppers (a landrace variety from the Democratic Republic of Congo) also produces some rippers, like the primotalii and the reapertalii. Perhaps they offer some limiting factor in the capsaicin biosynthesis pathway.
Step 2 - Crossing the Parents
Here is a helpful how-to video on cross pollinating peppers: Google "Hand-Pollinating Pepers at Johnny's Research Farm"
Step 3 - Selecting the Offspring
The first generation after a cross (called ‘F1’ in plant breeding) is ~50% the mother and ~50% the father. Because of this the offspring will be relatively uniform in traits. The generations subsequent are where the genes can get shuffled in weird combinations, resulting in very unique combinations. Remembering back to your grade school classes, you’ll recall the F2 generation (the second generation after a cross) is the most interesting.
More on complex inheritance: Google "Khan Academy Polygenic inheritance and environmental effects" (THP won't let me link)
In a practical sense, this is why you have to maximize the number of offspring you are growing out in the first few generations - especially F2 - in order to find rare gene combinations.
If you are selecting for heat, there are imperfect proxy ways that you can use, aside from getting it officially tested or going through a severe amount of pain. You can look for:
  • Waves, bumps, wrinkles, and crinkles - these are often indicators of a large amount of vesicles that can contain capsaicin.
  • Visible oil on the inside walls of the pepper
  • Large amount of placental tissue - this is the foamy and whiter part of the inside of a pepper, typically right next to the seeds, but for some very hot varieties, it is spread throughout the whole pod. It contains more capsaicin than other parts of the pepper.
  • Prolonged ripening time (while annoying, this may allow for increased time for capsaicin buildup)
  • Really hot powder. Eating a fresh pod is not the best way to figure out how hot something is per gram, given differences in pod size and where the oil is concentrated (inside the wall, on the wall, etc.). Comparing powder (or even powder immersed in oil), is much more accurate.
Step 4 - Stabilizing the Cross
Once you have found the traits you want, the tough part is holding on to those traits over a number of generations.
Below is a nice table to numerically express how stabilization is achieved. This is purely theoretical and doesn’t account for the chromosomal position of genes or crossing over. To read more, Google: "Gene Segregation After a Cross tomato gene basics II"
F1: Heterozygous: 100%; Homozygous: 0%
F2: Heterozygous: 50%;
Homozygous: 50%
F3: Heterozygous: 25%; Homozygous: 75%
F4: Heterozygous: 12.5%; Homozygous: 87.5%
F5: Heterozygous: 6.3%; Homozygous: 93.7%
F6: Heterozygous: 3.1%; Homozygous: 96.8%
F7: Heterozygous: 1.6%; Homozygous: 98.4%
F8: Heterozygous: 0.8%; Homozygous: 99.2%
F9: Heterozygous: 0.4%; Homozygous: 99.6%
F10: Heterozygous: 0.2%; Homozygous: 99.8%
F11: Heterozygous: 0.1%; Homozygous: 99.9%


There is debate over how many generations a pepper should be around before it is considered “stable.” Some say 5 generations, others 7. I’ll point out that the reaper was reportedly 10 years old when it first won the record.
Step 5 - Sampling
I have taken notice of the fact that Guinness points out that samples were taken “throughout” the year for the reaper. Perhaps this is part of their criteria? Do the samples need to be from multiple plants in multiple locations? I don’t know.
Peppers have peak capsaicin concentration right as they are turning their ripe color. After that there is a relatively significant drop as the capsaicin degrades. Articles on this:
  • Barbero, Gerardo F., et al. "Evolution of total and individual capsaicinoids in peppers during ripening of the Cayenne pepper plant (Capsicum annuum L.)." Food chemistry 153 (2014): 200-206.
  • Contreras-Padilla, Margarita, and Elhadi M. Yahia. "Changes in capsaicinoids during development, maturation, and senescence of chile peppers and relation with peroxidase activity." Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 46.6 (1998): 2075-2079.
  • Zhang, Zi-Xin, et al. "Discovery of putative capsaicin biosynthetic genes by RNA-Seq and digital gene expression analysis of pepper." Scientific reports 6.1 (2016): 1-14.
Step 6 - Drying
While relatively heat stable, there is limited evidence to support that higher temperature drying may cause slight degradation of capsaicin: Montoya-Ballesteros, L. C., et al. "Impact of open sun drying and hot air drying on capsaicin, capsanthin, and ascorbic acid content in chiltepin (Capsicum annuum L. var. glabriusculum)." Revista Mexicana de Ingeniería Química 16.3 (2017): 813-825.
Step 7 - Testing
New Mexico University’s Chile Pepper Institute lists three reputable locations for HPLC, the gold standard for Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) measurement: Google "New Mexico State University Chile Pepper Institute Measuring Chile Pepper Heat" (THP doesn't let me link)
It’s worth noting that the reaper used Winthrop University, a university local to the growing location. Personal relationships with university or college faculty could allow for low cost (and perhaps favorable) testing.
Step 8 - The Guinness Hurdle
Here is a how-to guide for submitting to get a Guinness World Record: Google "The Complete Guide to Getting Your Own Guinness World Record" (THP doesn't let me link)
The Reaper Record: Google "Guinness World Records Hottest chilli pepper"
 
If anyone wants to join in this group experiment, let me know.  I am currently crossing Moruga from the Chile Pepper Institute and a Dorset naga from SeaSpring.  I also have some fatalii that I am going to bring in.  I have one pod that has stuck and is still ripening from my Moruga/Dorset cross.  I hope to grow out as many seeds as I can of this cross in the F2 in hopes of finding something really cool.  
 

peppersproutfarm

Extreme Member
I'm definitely not looking for the hottest but I am overwintering a yellow scotch bonnet and red primo(direct from Troy) I will cross them next spring. Of course I will not get results for another season. I'll most likely start a grow log when I germinate next year's plants and give my breeding updates there. Happy breeding
 
I don't have any first hand experience breeding Capsicum for strong capsaicin content but this topic interests me. I have been meaning to address this topic in a few regards and rather than make several posts over time I decided to make a single large post covering most of my thoughts and observations. This is the reason for the large size of this post.
___________________________________________________________________________

I recently read about biostimulants extracted from alfalfa (AH) and red grape (RG).

When used with Capsicum chinensis the results were quite interesting. The leaves of the treated plants had high levels of dihydrocapsaicin. The leaves of treated plants were larger, had more sugars and increased metabolites and according to the study, "both AH- and RG-treated red fruits were highly endowed in capsaicin..."

Here's another interesting quote from the study:
...the amount of capsaicin sharply increased ca 7-fold in red fruits after the second application of AH and RG at low doses...

At first glance it seems like the AH and RH biostimulants could be useful for someone growing Capsicum for the Capsaicinoids. Another study also found a +162% to +341% increase in the capsaicinoid content of red fruit. The study notes that the biostimulants increased capsaicinoid content to a lesser degree in the green fruit.

Alfalfa makes a pretty useful organic fertilizer and a 40 lb bag of alfalfa pellets is pretty close to $10 in price. The AH material was made through controlled enzymatic hydrolysis. The active molecules in AH are said to be triacontanol and indole-3-acetic acid and neither of those are water soluble so this isn't something that can be applied with a simple compost tea but both molecules are somewhat soluble in warm alcohol and heated polar solvents. Extracting the biostimulant material from alfalfa and or red grape skin may not be practical for a hobby grower. Nevertheless biostimulants are something worth considering when chasing SHUs.

______________________________________________________________________________
Back to the topic of super hots...
I have a few Capsicum selections that are said to be fairly potent.
So far (if the plants are identified correctly and the seeds grow true) I have:

  • Trinidad Moruga Scorpion (TM)
  • Carolina Reaper (CR)
  • Bhut Jolokia (BJ)
  • Chocolate Bhutlah (CB)
  • Borg-9 (B9)
  • Rouge Noir (RN)
I should have Bhut Jolokia strain 2 (said to be an improved form) and Pimento de Neyde on the way as well. The Trinidad Moruga Scorpions and the Carolina Reaper came from a nursery that sold me a misidentified Bhut Jolokia that I suspect is half Bhut and half unknown C. annuum judging from the traits it has. I went and asked the owner of the nursery about this and he gave me several Capsicum plants that would have eventually been killed by winter cold. Among these plants was one Bhut Jolokia with a single fruit on it that indicated it was a Bhut unlike the one I bought. Of the remaining plants 4 have Trinidad Moruga Scorpion tags and 1 has a Carolina Reaper tag. The owner of the nursery believed they were accurately labeled but he purchases his plants from other suppliers and the fake Bhut I bought came from such a supplier. It was likely grown from open pollinated seed. So it remains to be seen if I do indeed have TM and CR.

I don't have any information on how long Capsicum pollen lasts and if it ships well but with Cacti breeders frequently store pollen (temporarily) and mail it to one another to allow a person to produce hybrid seeds with it. I think that for the purpose of breeding Capsicum in a community storing and sharing pollen could be very handy. Of course if the pollen doesn't store and ship well a small branch with some unopened flowers and leaves should ship fine and the flowers can open and produce viable pollen at the destination. So if anyone is interested in pollen from a plant I have just let me know.

______________________________________________________________________________

Super-hot Capsicum varieties appear to originate with alleles found in C. frutescens, specifically the variety Lotah Bih is said to be ancestral to the super-hots. This Capsicum frutescens variety was bred to a Capsicum chinense variety and that became Bih Jolokia. The combination of the chinense alleles that code for copious capsaicin production in concert with the frutescens alleles that code for a modified endocarp where capsaicinoids accumulate. The endocarp is the innermost layer of the pericarp, which is the wall of the fruit.

Because the super-hot phenotype involves additive effects of different gene groups from C. frutescens and C. capsicum there is considerable variation possible and the chinense side of things can serve as as a point of influence over the whole. Due to the variation possible and a lack of selection it is possible for populations of super-hot peppers to drift a bit and I read a study claiming that the average heat of the jolokias grown in some areas of India had decreased to the point of being in the neighborhood of 300,000 SHU, about 1/3 of the SHU value most people attribute to Ghost peppers. This is important for breeders to be aware of, not that some Ghosts are comparable to Habanero in SHU values but that every time a seed is sown that is a type of selection and every crop has some degree of variation that is passed down through it's seeds.

A person trying to grow the hottest peppers they can needs to select the hottest peppers they have as seed sources. This is just like selecting the largest fruit for seed or fruits with a specific shape, except the trait we want is high capsaicinoid content and high SHU value. The hottest selections may not be the largest berries or come from the most productive plants. This brings us to another concept that some breeders may be interested in and that is total capsaicinoid yield per plant per unit of time with a given amount of space, light, water and fertilizer. Some growers will be more interested in plants that produce large amounts of capsaicin oils for extraction.

A plant that yields a large number of 500,000 SHU fruits can produce more actual capsaicin than a plant that produces a lower amount of 2,000,000 SHU fruits. Obviously a plant that produces a large amount of fruit with a higher SHU value will produce higher amounts of capsaicin in a season but the point worth considering here is that to breed a plant for fruits with high SHU value is not always the same as breeding a plant that produces high amounts of capsaicin overall. If the goal of a breeder is to break the record for the worlds hottest pepper then the breeder will need to actively identify, select and grow the seed from the plants that produce the fruit with the highest SHU value in a given year. Additionally the seeds from the plants that produce fruit with lower SHU values should be culled and not planted.

If you grow 5 plants of say... Chocolate Bhut-lah and they are all from seed it is extremely probable that there will be variation in terms of the average SHU value of the fruits of the plants. A single plant can produce a range of SHU values in fruit over a season and the grower needs to identify those plants whose fruits have a higher SHU average than those of the other 4 plants. This selection criteria is necessary to maintain and improve the heat level of a given strain or variety.

As I mentioned previously the super-hot phenotype comes from an interplay of alleles from C. frutescens and C. chinense. The chinense selection is important to the combination and there are many types of chinense plants that can be used in a breeding program. Since the goal is to combine the genes for endocarp capsaicin with genes for high capsaicin expression a breeder chasing after high SHU values wants to use alleles for the strongest chinense variety they can find. The genes that code for capsaicin accumulation in the endocarp can be combined with numerous alleles for capsaicin expression from C. chinense and if the variety of C. chinense has a lower SHU value due to producing less capsaicin in the placental tissue then a combination of those genes will produce a pepper with capsaicinoid content in its endocarp but the overall concentration will be less than it would be if a hotter selection had been used. The resulting pepper will still be hotter than the parental C. chinense was due to the capsaicin in the endocarp, which the C. chinense lacks but nevertheless such a pepper is not likely to break any records even if you save and sow the seeds from the plants with the hottest fruit each season.

Once you have identified the most ideal C. chinense selection to work with then the alleles from that plant can be worked into your super-hot strain by attempting a diallel cross and then using various techniques such as recurring back-crosses and selection.

In terms of chasing the SHU world record it is perhaps important to consider some of the ideal traits that give super-hots their high values. If two fruits or berries each produce around the same amount of capsaicin but one of the berries has thicker flesh and the other has thinner flesh the result will be that the berry with the thicker flesh will have a lower SHU value. This is interesting because if the plants they come from produce around the same number of fruit then the capsaicin production value per plant will be the same despite the berries having a different SHU value. The ratio of capsaicinoid alkaloid to the rest of the mass of the berry is an important thing to measure and base selections upon for those who want to try and break a world record. The hottest peppers today all have very thin flesh and high capsaicin alkaloid content.

The berry to capsaicin ratio is an important aspect of breeding super-hots and it is affected by several factors. One of the more important aspects of this ratio is surface area. The capsaicinoid alkaloids accumulate in the inner wall of the berry and the more inner wall there is then the more alkaloid can accumulate and the higher the SHU value will be. One of the major features of the super-hot peppers is that they have various textures on the fruit that allow much larger surface areas in the berry than can be had with smooth fruit walls. Interestingly for many commercial purposes peppers with rough texture are culled and not allowed to reach consumers because they are considered less attractive. Interestingly in the case of Habanero peppers although rough textured berries are culled and don't reach market they do exist in some populations and can be found by growing seed from their smoother skinned neighbors. If the berries come from a population with some rough textured fruit then a percentage of the seeds will grow plants with such fruit. I had one rough textured orange habanero turn up this year.

Selecting smooth skin pretty fruit is not something a breeder hoping to break a world record should do. The aforementioned decrease of the SHU values of some Bih Jolokia populations may be directly linked to selection efforts promoting a smooth walled fruit for consumers. There are several smooth walled selections of "ghost" peppers on the market and they tend to have lower SHU values than those people associate with ghost peppers. Some of the selections with smoother walls however still have features that increase the surface area of the berry and thus increases the capsaicin content in relation to the berry mass... in these cases the shape of the berry should be considered.

Any fruit aspects increasing the surface area of the fruit will potentially result in higher SHU values. Things like lobes and folds do this well. If you take some time and examine the shapes and textures of the peppers that have set records you will observe that each of them in their own way has a combination of traits that maximizes the surface area of the berries to allow them to produce as much capsaicinoid alkaloid as possible by giving the berry as much (inner) surface area as possible. Often a record holding pepper will have thin flesh, be very bumpy, wrinkled and rough with folds and lobes or grooves. Also by increasing the inner surface area and decreasing the berry size the SHU value will generally increase to a point due to there being less non-capsaicin mass such as fewer or smaller seeds... this naturally increases the ratio of capsaicinoid alkaloid to berry mass. As an example of this take a look at the berries of the super-hot variety Dragons Breath, they are small, textured, wrinkled and folded. If two berries from two different plants produce similar amounts of alkaloids and one of the berries is much smaller than the other then the smaller berry will have the higher SHU value.

To recap:
Potential ways to increase the SHU value of a line are:
  • Selecting the seed from the plants producing the hottest berries in a population.
  • Using C. chinense alleles from selections with high SHU values as a genetic component.
  • Selecting berries with thinner walls/flesh.
  • Selecting textured berries with many bumps and wrinkles to maximize surface area.
  • Selecting berries shapes with folds, lobes, projections etc to maximize surface area.
  • Selecting smaller berries with fewer and smaller seeds
These are just concepts that people pursuing world records may find useful. If a person has a large amount of space and can grow hundreds of thousands or even millions of plants and has equipment to rapidly screen them for capsaicin content then they will have a very very strong advantage over hobby growers with limited space and resources.

The political aspects of the Guinness world records potentially undermine it's credibility. More than any other thing a Guinness record for hottest pepper is a marketing tool as opposed to a statement of fact and accomplishment.

If Guinness was openly testing peppers, which I suspect they are not... it might be a rather simple matter to obtain some seeds from a super hot breeding project where the majority of the work has already been done by someone else, then grow out that seed selecting for the plants producing the hotter specimens, give them a new name... perhaps based on the location of where you grew them... and then approach Guinness with cash in hand for testing. Doing this you could easily take credit for and profit from years of hard work done by someone else... and it's been done before. The current worlds hottest pepper record was set that way and despite denying it the so called breeder of that pepper hasn't been able to keep his stories straight. So if you do choose to go the lie, cheat and steal route you might want to at least try to keep your lies consistent and maybe do a little shape selection on the pepper you steal and rename so that people can at least tell it apart from the original when they are grown side by side. It isn't actually illegal to do... it's like patenting the work of another person before they can patent it... but being legal doesn't make it respectable.

[/\/\][/\/]
 
Max Nihil, cool idea about bringing in frutescens.  I had not heard of Lotah Bih.  After a quick Google I can see that a lot of people have made the connection between that strain and the ancestral bhut frutescens genes.  Very cool!
 
The information on Lotah Bih's role in the origin of the super-hot phenotypes is not widely known or even commonly available in the English language so far as I know.

If I am not mistaken some of the Thai peppers I purchased this summer also had what appeared to be a thin inner lining of pseudoplacental tissue. I purchased the peppers fresh at a local Asian market and cut them open and specifically looked through them for signs of this. When I sampled the wall of these peppers by removing it from the seeds and the placenta and then chewing it I found the material to be fairly piquant or hot and I believe that capsaicin was able to accumulate in the layer in a manner similar to super hots but at a much lower total concentration than today's super hots contain. I suspect that some plants with very small thin fleshed berries end up having more of a placenta like lining to their endocarp instead of the placenta merely connecting to the pericarp where the locules meet.

However as a hobby grower with limited space, resources and time I have no intention of trying to reinvent the wheel in terms of the frut X chin hybrid that became known as the ghost pepper. Still I suspect it can be done again with the right parents and selections.

It is much easier to work on combining new or different chinense sourced alleles into an existing super hot population and then do recurrent back crosses to the super hot parent while still selecting plants that exhibit the desired trait from the chinense parent. Its actually pretty simple but it takes time and trait linkage need to be carefully considered.

Some efforts to introduce specific traits will have extremely low probabilities of success but are still technically possible. This is where being able to grow and screen tens of thousands of plants or more provides a serious advantage and makes success far more probable.

A large population to work with can make success likely in cases of trait combinations that statistically speaking have essentially what amounts to a zero percent chance of success when attempted with a small population.

Hobby growing and breeding tends to be very limited in terms of techniques and possibilities and it is important to have practical obtainable goals suitable for the time, space, budget and resources available.

When a trait combination has a 1 in 10,000 chance of occurring it is a potential waste of time to try to achieve it if you only have a population of 10 plants. However if you are able to work with a population of 30,000 plants it is not a waste of time to pursue that combination and it may not even be difficult to accomplish.

I have limited space, time and resources and do not consider the pursuit of a world record breaking pepper to be practical so naturally it isn't something I consider worthwhile because statistically my probability of success is pretty much zero. However several other breeding projects where success is highly probable are well within my means.
 
There are only two spots in the world where super hots come from - Trinidad and Tobago, and Indian and Bangladesh.

I cannot find any evidence that super-hot peppers existed in Trinidad prior to 2006, when CARDI published a paper(link above)outlining it's goals as:
Vision: to develop highly aromatic and pungent hot pepper cultivars to enhance the economic advantage of the Caribbean Community.

Goal: to breed and select new genotypes of hot pepper, which were equal or better than existing cultivars (sic)

The Moruga pepper before 2007 was a habanero with a pungency of 300,000-500,000 SHU, not a super-hot plant.

The pericarpal membrane alleles allowing CARDI and Trinidad peppers to be super-hot were bred into the stock from Jolokias and then developed into far superior material using selection and breeding. It is this work by CARDI essentially that is responsible for 7-pots like Douglah and the Trinidad Scorpions, and it is those plants that formed the basis of the 7-pot-Primo (akaReaper) and plants like Borg-9 and Chocolate Bhutlah and more.

Without CARDI breeding their super-hot 7 pots and Scorpions... Primos and Reapers wouldn't even exist.

Crossing any Douglah, any super-hot 7 pot*, or Scorpion with Jolokia seems to consistently produce fruit weaker than the Douglah/7pot/Scorpion parent.

I have strong doubts that new super-potent peppers will be created by crossing existing super-hot varieties. Rather serious selection and development over time on a rather large scale is likely required.

I would like to be wrong about this.

*Originally the name 7-pot was used for Caribbean Habaneros, and not everything that bears the name is super-hot.
 
Last edited:
I cannot find any evidence that super-hot peppers existed in Trinidad prior to 2006, when CARDI published a paper(link above)outlining it's goals as:


The Moruga pepper before 2007 was a habanero with a pungency of 300,000-500,000 SHU, not a super-hot plant.

The pericarpal membrane alleles allowing CARDI and Trinidad peppers to be super-hot were bred into the stock from Jolokias and then developed into far superior material using selection and breeding. It is this work by CARDI essentially that is responsible for 7-pots like Douglah and the Trinidad Scorpions, and it is those plants that formed the basis of the 7-pot-Primo (akaReaper) and plants like Borg-9 and Chocolate Bhutlah and more.

Without CARDI breeding their super-hot 7 pots and Scorpions... Primos and Reapers wouldn't even exist.

Crossing any Douglah, any super-hot 7 pot*, or Scorpion with Jolokia seems to consistently produce fruit weaker than the Douglah/7pot/Scorpion parent.

I have strong doubts that new super-potent peppers will be created by crossing existing super-hot varieties. Rather serious selection and development over time on a rather large scale is likely required.

I would like to be wrong about this.

*Originally the name 7-pot was used for Caribbean Habaneros, and not everything that bears the name is super-hot.
Here are genetic analyses that suggest that bhuts are geneticly different from Trinidadian peppers:
 
Abstract of CARDI's book of 2006


Currently, there are more than 60 hot pepper
cultivars/landraces maintained by the CARDI Hot
Pepper sub-programme. These include
West Indies Red
CARDI Red
CARDI Green
Scotch Bonnet
Red Congo
Red Flat
Yellow Congo
Cayenne
‘Tiger Teeth’
‘Faria’
‘Hood’
‘Seven Pod’
‘Pimento’
‘Local Yellow’
‘Moruga Blend’
‘Scorpion’
‘Local’ (Trinidad and Tobago)
‘Peggy Mouth’ (Antigua local)
‘Red Sabina’
‘Jamaican brown’ and ‘Mandarin’ (Belize locals).
Eight of these (West Indies Red, CARDI Red, CARDI Green,
‘Tiger Teeth’, Cayenne, Red Congo, Yellow Congo
and Scotch Bonnet) are stabilised for commercial
production and the rest are in various stages of
isolation and stabilisation. These eight cultivars
were, therefore, the germplasm that formed the
backbone of the 2006 activities.
There it is right there. The CARDI 2006 PDF states that they are specifically breeding and developing new genotypes of peppers.
The list above mentions that 8 of the varieties listed above were stable in 2006, the others were still in stages of isolation and stabilization. That includes the Scorpion, The Moruga blend and the 7 pod. Trinidad Scorpion wasn't even released by CARDI until 2014.
 
Here are genetic analyses that suggest that bhuts are geneticly different from Trinidadian peppers:
Except that the genetic analysis doesn't suggest that... does it?

No real genetic analysis of super-hot specific QTL markers has been done that I am aware of. That paper I posted the other week about capsiate content and breeding super hot peppers actually provides sequence information if someone wanted to actually compare the alleles for the pericarpal membrane, although in that paper the QTL sequences are provided so that super hot phenotypes can be identified by screening seedlings for the markers.

I am unaware of any published results supporting the idea that the genetics mechanisms of the super-hot pericarpal placenta like membrane of Bhut Jolokia are different that the mechanisms of the identical membrane in Trinidad scorpion.

I am unaware of any evidence that Trinidad had super-hot peppers prior to the breeding work CARDI was doing around 2006. There are rumors, but as the CARDI abstract from 2006 I posted above mentions the super-hots were still being developed back then. They were not landraces waiting to be discovered, but rather are a sophisticated and remarkable achievement that was only able to be accomplished in the last 20 years.
 
I noticed some interesting comments in relation to the 2Million+ SHU score of the CPI testing of the Trinidad Moruga etc.

In a casual comment an author said that the 2 million SHU came from 1 single "pod" and that people should not expect that type of score from normal fruit. The same study found a 7-pot Douglah pod to rate at 1.8 million and that study seemed to disregard this score also as an aberration.

I believe that single pod SHU values should be rejected as meaningful, and that the only valid SHU numbers are those from averages obtained from sampling several fruits of several plants over time.

This brings me to my final point, the values being touted as world records are deliberately misleading. They do not represent reality and so they create confusion. This is because in many cases they are the exceptions and not the rule.

When a small deformed berry forms, with very few seeds in it then the SHU values go up because the seeds and placenta and pericarp all dilute the capsaicin with dry matter weight. By selecting deformed fruit the dry matter weight of the fruit can go down and the SHU values go up. To use these values for a record is like saying a quadriplegic person without arms or legs is smarter than others because they have a higher brain mass ratio to body mass... which incidentally is the kind of talk one tends to hear from intoxicated drunks and junkies.

Isn't Guinness a beer company?

That's right. The world record numbers are drunk talk... at best.
They are meant for people whose judgement is impaired.

The most important numbers aren't the high values from stressed, deformed, exceptionally and unusually potent berries.

The most important numbers are the recovery values, as in milligrams of capsaicinoids per 100g of berry by dry weight.
Those can be translated into SHU values mathematically and actually mean something.

You can be sober and believe them because they represent the actual heat values of the fruit of the variety that people will get if they grow the plant.

The world record numbers are @$#%^ garbage meant to sell hot sauce to drunks... and it works.
It's a billion dollar business built on deception and that's the honest truth.
 
Last edited:
I noticed some interesting comments in relation to the 2Million+ SHU score of the CPI testing of the Trinidad Moruga etc.

In a casual comment an author said that the 2 million SHU came from 1 single "pod" and that people should not expect that type of score from normal fruit. The same study found a 7-pot Douglah pod to rate at 1.8 million and that study seemed to disregard this score also as an aberration.

I believe that single pod SHU values should be rejected as meaningful, and that the only valid SHU numbers are those from averages obtained from sampling several fruits of several plants over time.

This brings me to my final point, the values being touted as world records are deliberately misleading. They do not represent reality and so they create confusion. This is because in many cases they are the exceptions and not the rule.

When a small deformed berry forms, with very few seeds in it then the SHU values go up because the seeds and placenta and pericarp all dilute the capsaicin with dry matter weight. By selecting deformed fruit the dry matter weight of the fruit can go down and the SHU values go up. To use these values for a record is like saying a quadriplegic person without arms or legs is smarter than others because they have a higher brain mass ratio to body mass... which incidentally is the kind of talk one tends to hear from intoxicated drunks and junkies.

Isn't Guinness a beer company?

That's right. The world record numbers are drunk talk... at best.
They are meant for people whose judgement is impaired.

The most important numbers aren't the high values from stressed, deformed, exceptionally and unusually potent berries.

The most important numbers are the recovery values, as in milligrams of capsaicinoids per 100g of berry by dry weight.
Those can be translated into SHU values mathematically and actually mean something.

You can be sober and believe them because they represent the actual heat values of the fruit of the variety that people will get if they grow the plant.

The world record numbers are @$#%^ garbage meant to sell hot sauce to drunks... and it works.
It's a billion dollar business built on deception and that's the honest truth.
The testing standards are the equivalent of letting Lance Armstrong test himself for PED's.
 
However on the other hand using the information in this thread it is very possible to develop and or refine a genotype of superhot pepper that has a higher yield of capsaicinoids per square meter per unit of time, which translates to more alkaloid per acre.

It is also possible to develop similarly super-hot pepper that on average has higher alkaloid levels in the pericarp, which translates to more alkaloid per 100g of dried berry, standardized.

The advice in the thread is sound, despite the world record system being unsound.
The testing standards are the equivalent of letting Lance Armstrong test himself for PED's.
I don't respect cheating, lying or stealing (regardless of the money involved and a changing story is never a sign of honesty) and see them as a signs of weakness, not a sign of living strong. A lack of honesty is a lack of honor, not a clever tactic or strategy.

It is possible to create a real super-hot-list that shows actual results like average yield per acre and per 100 grams dried. I guarantee that some determined people and companies have been compiling their own private real lists for at least 20 years.
 

The_NorthEast_ChileMan

Extreme Member
The testing standards are the equivalent of letting Lance Armstrong test himself for PED's.
1q3BVgS.gif
 
How to Break the Record for the World’s Hottest Pepper

There can be only one World’s Hottest. This article will attempt to give pointers to help you go from seed to Guinness World Record. This document is evolving and suggestions are welcomed to improve and refine.

Step 1: Selecting Parent Genetics
There are only two spots in the world where super hots come from - Trinidad and Tobago, and Indian and Bangladesh. All of the hundreds and hundreds of modern super hot strains are really just recombinations of these two landrace pepper lineages.
I have a hypothesis that combining these two lineages is capable of producing even hotter peppers through additive genetics. As an oversimplified hypothetical example, perhaps genes related to the capsaicin biosynthesis pathway are on chromosome 1 for an Indian pepper (like bhut jolokia) and similar genes are on chromosome 2 for a Trinidadian pepper (like 7 pot). After a cross, some of the offspring might have both of those gene copies, thus producing even more capsaicin. The reaper, primo, nagabrain, naga viper, bhutlah and many of the other world’s hottest were purportedly produced through these East/West crosses from Indian and Trinidad.
If this hypothesis is correct, it would explain why breeding closely related super hot peppers typically doesn’t produce a hotter pepper. Many of the genes are in the same location and crossing them only swaps copies, not adds them together.
  • Trinidadian Landrace Super Hots
  • Trinidad Moruga scorpion
  • 7 pot
  • 7 pot brian strain
  • Douglah
  • Trinidad scorpion
Indian/Bangladeshi Landrace Super Hots
  • Bhut jolokia
  • Bhut assam
  • Dorset naga
  • Naga morich
  • Raja mirch
Don’t let this discourage you from trying your own cross, though. Get creative and try something no one has ever done before! Or, try something that has been done a bunch of times - it will still produce something unique!
Similar to the above method of crossing genetically distant Trinidadian and Indian peppers, I have it on good word that adding fatalii peppers (a landrace variety from the Democratic Republic of Congo) also produces some rippers, like the primotalii and the reapertalii. Perhaps they offer some limiting factor in the capsaicin biosynthesis pathway.
Step 2 - Crossing the Parents
Here is a helpful how-to video on cross pollinating peppers: Google "Hand-Pollinating Pepers at Johnny's Research Farm"
Step 3 - Selecting the Offspring
The first generation after a cross (called ‘F1’ in plant breeding) is ~50% the mother and ~50% the father. Because of this the offspring will be relatively uniform in traits. The generations subsequent are where the genes can get shuffled in weird combinations, resulting in very unique combinations. Remembering back to your grade school classes, you’ll recall the F2 generation (the second generation after a cross) is the most interesting.
More on complex inheritance: Google "Khan Academy Polygenic inheritance and environmental effects" (THP won't let me link)
In a practical sense, this is why you have to maximize the number of offspring you are growing out in the first few generations - especially F2 - in order to find rare gene combinations.
If you are selecting for heat, there are imperfect proxy ways that you can use, aside from getting it officially tested or going through a severe amount of pain. You can look for:
  • Waves, bumps, wrinkles, and crinkles - these are often indicators of a large amount of vesicles that can contain capsaicin.
  • Visible oil on the inside walls of the pepper
  • Large amount of placental tissue - this is the foamy and whiter part of the inside of a pepper, typically right next to the seeds, but for some very hot varieties, it is spread throughout the whole pod. It contains more capsaicin than other parts of the pepper.
  • Prolonged ripening time (while annoying, this may allow for increased time for capsaicin buildup)
  • Really hot powder. Eating a fresh pod is not the best way to figure out how hot something is per gram, given differences in pod size and where the oil is concentrated (inside the wall, on the wall, etc.). Comparing powder (or even powder immersed in oil), is much more accurate.
Step 4 - Stabilizing the Cross
Once you have found the traits you want, the tough part is holding on to those traits over a number of generations.
Below is a nice table to numerically express how stabilization is achieved. This is purely theoretical and doesn’t account for the chromosomal position of genes or crossing over. To read more, Google: "Gene Segregation After a Cross tomato gene basics II"
F1: Heterozygous: 100%; Homozygous: 0%
F2: Heterozygous: 50%;
Homozygous: 50%
F3: Heterozygous: 25%; Homozygous: 75%
F4: Heterozygous: 12.5%; Homozygous: 87.5%
F5: Heterozygous: 6.3%; Homozygous: 93.7%
F6: Heterozygous: 3.1%; Homozygous: 96.8%
F7: Heterozygous: 1.6%; Homozygous: 98.4%
F8: Heterozygous: 0.8%; Homozygous: 99.2%
F9: Heterozygous: 0.4%; Homozygous: 99.6%
F10: Heterozygous: 0.2%; Homozygous: 99.8%
F11: Heterozygous: 0.1%; Homozygous: 99.9%


There is debate over how many generations a pepper should be around before it is considered “stable.” Some say 5 generations, others 7. I’ll point out that the reaper was reportedly 10 years old when it first won the record.
Step 5 - Sampling
I have taken notice of the fact that Guinness points out that samples were taken “throughout” the year for the reaper. Perhaps this is part of their criteria? Do the samples need to be from multiple plants in multiple locations? I don’t know.
Peppers have peak capsaicin concentration right as they are turning their ripe color. After that there is a relatively significant drop as the capsaicin degrades. Articles on this:
  • Barbero, Gerardo F., et al. "Evolution of total and individual capsaicinoids in peppers during ripening of the Cayenne pepper plant (Capsicum annuum L.)." Food chemistry 153 (2014): 200-206.
  • Contreras-Padilla, Margarita, and Elhadi M. Yahia. "Changes in capsaicinoids during development, maturation, and senescence of chile peppers and relation with peroxidase activity." Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 46.6 (1998): 2075-2079.
  • Zhang, Zi-Xin, et al. "Discovery of putative capsaicin biosynthetic genes by RNA-Seq and digital gene expression analysis of pepper." Scientific reports 6.1 (2016): 1-14.
Step 6 - Drying
While relatively heat stable, there is limited evidence to support that higher temperature drying may cause slight degradation of capsaicin: Montoya-Ballesteros, L. C., et al. "Impact of open sun drying and hot air drying on capsaicin, capsanthin, and ascorbic acid content in chiltepin (Capsicum annuum L. var. glabriusculum)." Revista Mexicana de Ingeniería Química 16.3 (2017): 813-825.
Step 7 - Testing
New Mexico University’s Chile Pepper Institute lists three reputable locations for HPLC, the gold standard for Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) measurement: Google "New Mexico State University Chile Pepper Institute Measuring Chile Pepper Heat" (THP doesn't let me link)
It’s worth noting that the reaper used Winthrop University, a university local to the growing location. Personal relationships with university or college faculty could allow for low cost (and perhaps favorable) testing.
Step 8 - The Guinness Hurdle
Here is a how-to guide for submitting to get a Guinness World Record: Google "The Complete Guide to Getting Your Own Guinness World Record" (THP doesn't let me link)
The Reaper Record: Google "Guinness World Records Hottest chilli pepper"
Try any superhot x Maldivian Heart= Superhothothot and great sweet vanilla flavor
 

The_NorthEast_ChileMan

Extreme Member
How to Break the Record for the World’s Hottest Pepper

There can be only one World’s Hottest. This article will attempt to give pointers to help you go from seed to Guinness World Record. This document is evolving and suggestions are welcomed to improve and refine.

Step 1: Selecting Parent Genetics
There are only two spots in the world where super hots come from - Trinidad and Tobago, and Indian and Bangladesh. All of the hundreds and hundreds of modern super hot strains are really just recombinations of these two landrace pepper lineages.
I have a hypothesis that combining these two lineages is capable of producing even hotter peppers through additive genetics. As an oversimplified hypothetical example, perhaps genes related to the capsaicin biosynthesis pathway are on chromosome 1 for an Indian pepper (like bhut jolokia) and similar genes are on chromosome 2 for a Trinidadian pepper (like 7 pot). After a cross, some of the offspring might have both of those gene copies, thus producing even more capsaicin. The reaper, primo, nagabrain, naga viper, bhutlah and many of the other world’s hottest were purportedly produced through these East/West crosses from Indian and Trinidad.
If this hypothesis is correct, it would explain why breeding closely related super hot peppers typically doesn’t produce a hotter pepper. Many of the genes are in the same location and crossing them only swaps copies, not adds them together.
  • Trinidadian Landrace Super Hots
  • Trinidad Moruga scorpion
  • 7 pot
  • 7 pot brian strain
  • Douglah
  • Trinidad scorpion
Indian/Bangladeshi Landrace Super Hots
  • Bhut jolokia
  • Bhut assam
  • Dorset naga
  • Naga morich
  • Raja mirch
Don’t let this discourage you from trying your own cross, though. Get creative and try something no one has ever done before! Or, try something that has been done a bunch of times - it will still produce something unique!
Similar to the above method of crossing genetically distant Trinidadian and Indian peppers, I have it on good word that adding fatalii peppers (a landrace variety from the Democratic Republic of Congo) also produces some rippers, like the primotalii and the reapertalii. Perhaps they offer some limiting factor in the capsaicin biosynthesis pathway.
Step 2 - Crossing the Parents
Here is a helpful how-to video on cross pollinating peppers: Google "Hand-Pollinating Pepers at Johnny's Research Farm"
Step 3 - Selecting the Offspring
The first generation after a cross (called ‘F1’ in plant breeding) is ~50% the mother and ~50% the father. Because of this the offspring will be relatively uniform in traits. The generations subsequent are where the genes can get shuffled in weird combinations, resulting in very unique combinations. Remembering back to your grade school classes, you’ll recall the F2 generation (the second generation after a cross) is the most interesting.
More on complex inheritance: Google "Khan Academy Polygenic inheritance and environmental effects" (THP won't let me link)
In a practical sense, this is why you have to maximize the number of offspring you are growing out in the first few generations - especially F2 - in order to find rare gene combinations.
If you are selecting for heat, there are imperfect proxy ways that you can use, aside from getting it officially tested or going through a severe amount of pain. You can look for:
  • Waves, bumps, wrinkles, and crinkles - these are often indicators of a large amount of vesicles that can contain capsaicin.
  • Visible oil on the inside walls of the pepper
  • Large amount of placental tissue - this is the foamy and whiter part of the inside of a pepper, typically right next to the seeds, but for some very hot varieties, it is spread throughout the whole pod. It contains more capsaicin than other parts of the pepper.
  • Prolonged ripening time (while annoying, this may allow for increased time for capsaicin buildup)
  • Really hot powder. Eating a fresh pod is not the best way to figure out how hot something is per gram, given differences in pod size and where the oil is concentrated (inside the wall, on the wall, etc.). Comparing powder (or even powder immersed in oil), is much more accurate.
Step 4 - Stabilizing the Cross
Once you have found the traits you want, the tough part is holding on to those traits over a number of generations.
Below is a nice table to numerically express how stabilization is achieved. This is purely theoretical and doesn’t account for the chromosomal position of genes or crossing over. To read more, Google: "Gene Segregation After a Cross tomato gene basics II"
F1: Heterozygous: 100%; Homozygous: 0%
F2: Heterozygous: 50%;
Homozygous: 50%
F3: Heterozygous: 25%; Homozygous: 75%
F4: Heterozygous: 12.5%; Homozygous: 87.5%
F5: Heterozygous: 6.3%; Homozygous: 93.7%
F6: Heterozygous: 3.1%; Homozygous: 96.8%
F7: Heterozygous: 1.6%; Homozygous: 98.4%
F8: Heterozygous: 0.8%; Homozygous: 99.2%
F9: Heterozygous: 0.4%; Homozygous: 99.6%
F10: Heterozygous: 0.2%; Homozygous: 99.8%
F11: Heterozygous: 0.1%; Homozygous: 99.9%


There is debate over how many generations a pepper should be around before it is considered “stable.” Some say 5 generations, others 7. I’ll point out that the reaper was reportedly 10 years old when it first won the record.
Step 5 - Sampling
I have taken notice of the fact that Guinness points out that samples were taken “throughout” the year for the reaper. Perhaps this is part of their criteria? Do the samples need to be from multiple plants in multiple locations? I don’t know.
Peppers have peak capsaicin concentration right as they are turning their ripe color. After that there is a relatively significant drop as the capsaicin degrades. Articles on this:
  • Barbero, Gerardo F., et al. "Evolution of total and individual capsaicinoids in peppers during ripening of the Cayenne pepper plant (Capsicum annuum L.)." Food chemistry 153 (2014): 200-206.
  • Contreras-Padilla, Margarita, and Elhadi M. Yahia. "Changes in capsaicinoids during development, maturation, and senescence of chile peppers and relation with peroxidase activity." Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 46.6 (1998): 2075-2079.
  • Zhang, Zi-Xin, et al. "Discovery of putative capsaicin biosynthetic genes by RNA-Seq and digital gene expression analysis of pepper." Scientific reports 6.1 (2016): 1-14.
Step 6 - Drying
While relatively heat stable, there is limited evidence to support that higher temperature drying may cause slight degradation of capsaicin: Montoya-Ballesteros, L. C., et al. "Impact of open sun drying and hot air drying on capsaicin, capsanthin, and ascorbic acid content in chiltepin (Capsicum annuum L. var. glabriusculum)." Revista Mexicana de Ingeniería Química 16.3 (2017): 813-825.
Step 7 - Testing
New Mexico University’s Chile Pepper Institute lists three reputable locations for HPLC, the gold standard for Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) measurement: Google "New Mexico State University Chile Pepper Institute Measuring Chile Pepper Heat" (THP doesn't let me link)
It’s worth noting that the reaper used Winthrop University, a university local to the growing location. Personal relationships with university or college faculty could allow for low cost (and perhaps favorable) testing.
Step 8 - The Guinness Hurdle
Here is a how-to guide for submitting to get a Guinness World Record: Google "The Complete Guide to Getting Your Own Guinness World Record" (THP doesn't let me link)
The Reaper Record: Google "Guinness World Records Hottest chilli pepper"
New Mexico State University Chile Pepper Institute Measuring Chile Pepper Heat

The Complete Guide to Getting Your Own Guinness World Record
 
Great links, however the NMSU CPI page had this claim about HPLC:
This method is more costly than the Scoville test, but it gives an objective heat analysis. Not only does this method measure the total heat present, it also allows the amounts of the individual capsaicinoids to be determined
That claim however is highly problematic because individual humans do not perceive capsaicinoids the same and sometimes fruits that measure as less hot via HPLC testing are perceived as hotter by actual people eating the fruit.

No scientific instrument as of yet devised is capable of measuring total heat present and HPLC in no way shape or form offers analysis of heat in an objective way.

As another example consider sound, a high pitched sharp ringing sound at the same volume as a lower pitched humming tone is perceived as louder. A scientific instrument will tell you that the two sounds have the same volume, but to a person the high pitched sound is perceived as much louder than the lower pitch tone.

The problem is with the word objective as temperature heat can be measured objectively, however as a sensation caused not by heat but by biochemistry the heat of Capsicum is not actually temperature, but perception. The NMCU method cannot measure the heat of a berry the way a thermometer can measure the heat of a substance or thing, what NMCU is calling heat is not actually heat and it is ignorant to say that HPLC can provide an objective heat analysis because that it not true at all.

HPLC can provide qualitative and quantitative information but cannot tell you how hot a berry is any more than a measuring cup can tell you what temperature something is.

Moreover because Capsaicin affects nerve formation and because Turtle Islanders have been eating them for something close to 10,000 years there has been a selective pressure upon the human population that literally affects how hot Capsaicinoids are perceived to be. For example, some people react much more adversely to some types of peppers, hence the term Gringo killers. I can eat habaneros, but I have never been able to hold a fresh Manzano pepper down. To me the Manzano is far far hotter but it has much lower levels of measurable Capsaicin.

HPLC data is awesome but it doesn't extrapolate into an objective heat level, in fact for that purpose it isn't any better than numerous other extraction methods (solvent, supercrit, MVE assisted, ultrasonic etc) that also show % of recoverable capsaicinoids on a dry weight basis.

Most people use HPLC to see what is in something, NOT to measure how much of it there is, it is actually really poor for that.
 
Top