October 25, 2002
Pumpkins have been cooked, eaten and kept as ornaments for thousands of yearslong before the Irish brought their tradition of 'All Hollows Eve' to America and started using pumpkins to keep Jack and other restless spirits at bay on the last night of October.
Pumpkins are members of the Cucurbita family, as are squash, cucumbers, gherkins, and melons. One of the earliest cultivated plants, the pumpkin has been grown in the Americas for several thousand years.
Geneticists have used archaeological evidencetiny plant remains called phytolithsfrom excavations in Central America to study how some of the world's 800 species of cucurbits were domesticated.
With the help of genetic markers from wild and domesticated plants, the researchers identified a region in northeastern Mexico where farmers may have first domesticated the wild ancestors of Cucurbita pepo, the species considered to be the 'true' pumpkin.
This fall, scientists from various fieldsincluding biotechnology,
entomology, virology, and geneticsare meeting to discuss cucurbits.
The conference "Cucurbitaceae
2002" will be held December 8-12, 2002 in Naples, Florida, USA.
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