Biology Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for biology researchers, academics, and students. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I wonder if Chili pepper's fruits which fall into the soil near the plant will harm it, since the peppers are so spicy for people.

share|improve this question
The spiciness is because human tongues can interact with Capsaicin - an organic molecule that locks into receptors on our papillae and cause a heat/pain feeling. Not all animals have them, and I doubt the soil would be affected since the seeds - where the highest concentration exists - must be planted. However, I can't look up references right now. :) – MCM Dec 15 '12 at 23:07
up vote 2 down vote accepted

As @MCM says, the capsaicin molecule isn't intrinsically damaging - its effect upon us is mediated through the TRPV1 (Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid 1) receptor in the membranes of cells whose function is to sense noxious stimuli such as heat. The binding of capsaicin to this protein causes transmembrane movement of Ca2+ ions which depolarises the membrane, triggering an action potential - a signal to the brain. Heat has the same effect on the TRPV1 protein. In this way the presence of capsaicin mimics the effects of heat, causing a painful sensation.

Have a look at this SE.Biology question.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.