Crop breeding provides an excellent inroad into understanding evolution--for our students,
just as it did for Darwin. If we have discussed the molecules involved (DNA/RNA/protein),
and if we have discussed the mechanisms by which genes can control development (by
producing proteins that regulate embryonic processes), and if we have discussed the fact
that mutations always happen and cannot be prevented, then we can get somewhere if we
ask the following question:
 
Prior to the late 1400's, peppers were unknown in most of the world, except for the
Americas. Columbus carried the seeds of peppers from the Americas to Europe. But, these
were plants that produce small, hot peppers...how did the Europeans turn them into Bell
peppers?
 
The following pages help illustrate how.
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