The Early History of Papayas

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Early History of Papayas
The first literary reference to papayas dates back to 1526, when they were found in the Caribbean coast of Panama and Colombia and described by the Spanish chronicler Oviedo. Thanks to its several hardy seeds (which can last for up to the 3 years in cool and dry conditions) the plant spread relatively easily throughout the tropics, and has become naturalized in several regions, especially those abundant with water and fertile soils. Papayas are thought to be native to tropical America, in a region that goes from the Andes of South America to Southern Mexico. -------------------------------------------------

Papayas during the Spanish exploration
They were spread to the south by Indians (aboriginal Americans), and was later spread to the whole Caribbean by Spanish explorers, who also carried it to Europe and the Pacific Islands. Papayas could be found in any tropical region by 1650, and later spread to Hawaii around the end of the 18th century.

A papaya harboringringspot virus. The virus was overcome in 1998 with genetic engineering of papaya plants Hawaii remains today the only state producing papayas commercially. In Florida, during the early 1900, there was a small papaya industry, but it was rapidly destroyed by viral diseases (such as papaya ringspot virus) that are still threatening papayas in other areas: the Hawaiiand industry underwent a decline recently for this reason. -------------------------------------------------

Genetic Engineering of the Sunrise cultivar
However, new technologies have allowed biotechnologists at the University of Hawaii, in 1998, to genetically modify papaya cultivars of the species "Sunrise", inserting a gene in their DNA that confers them viral immunity. This application of engineering made papayas the first genetically modified fruit for human consumption, and it appears to have achieved a lot of success! Since the experiment, most of the papaya plants in Hawaii have been replaced by the new genetically modified Sunrise cultivar. -------------------------------------------------

Modern History and Taxonomy
Papayas belong the Caricaceae family, which was recently at the center of taxonomic arguments: new information increased the number of genera from 4 to 6, placing them in the monophyletic clade of glucosinolate-producing families that includes the Brassicaceae. The bulk of the genus was comprised by the newly named Vasconcellea species of South America, but several morphologica, molecular, reproductive and biogeographical traits suggest that Carica papaya is actually monospefic, and distinct from Vasconcellea. Botanically, the history of papayas is very curious: it was domesticated in Central American from progenitors that were nearly inedible and weedy, and has undergone lots of changes and mutations during centuries of human selection, that modified its fruit size, flesh color, mating system and growth habits. -------------------------------------------------

Papayas, raw
Refuse: 33%  (Seeds and skin)
Scientific Name:  Carica papaya
NDB No: 09226 (Nutrient values and weights are for edible portion)

Nutrient| Units| Value per
100 grams| Number
of Data
Points| Std.
Proximates| | | | |
Water| g| 88.83| 36| 0.3|
Energy| kcal| 39| 0| 0|
Energy| kJ| 163| 0| 0|
Protein| g| 0.61| 31| 0.031|
Total lipid (fat)| g| 0.14| 10| 0.042|
Ash| g| 0.61| 33| 0.03|
Carbohydrate, by difference| g| 9.81| 0| 0|
Fiber, total dietary| g| 1.8| 0| 0|
Sugars, total| g| 5.90| 0| 0|
Minerals| | | | |
Calcium, Ca| mg| 24| 5| 7.198|
Iron, Fe| mg| 0.10| 20| 0.019|
Magnesium, Mg| mg| 10| 20| 1.825|
Phosphorus, P| mg| 5| 20| 0.481|
Potassium, K| mg| 257| 14| 27.569|
Sodium, Na| mg| 3| 14| 0.355|
Zinc, Zn| mg| 0.07| 2| 0|
Copper, Cu| mg| 0.016| 18| 0.001|
Manganese, Mn| mg|...
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