Capsaicin Production:

     The most unique adaptation that the Bhut jolokia and its close relatives of the Capsicum genus is the development of the compound capsaicin (structure below).  Capsaicin is the molecule that causes the heat feeling when it comes into contact with the back of the tongue and the throat.  Alone, this molecule is tasteless and odorless, but still packs a huge punch. Pure Capsaicin's scoville rating is at 15,000,000-16,000,000 units!  There is a theory that capsaicin was developed because of a mutualistic, symbiotic relationship between pepper eating birds.       Because capsaicin binds to the same pain receptors that are activated when a mammal comes into contact with something hot, most mammals do not even bother with attempting to eat the ghost chili's fruit.  This means that capsaicin was developed as a defense mechanism to protect its self from predators.  However, birds, like the great heron, have a different sensory pathway then mammals that makes them immune to the capsaicin's irritating effects.  The immunity to the compound may not be a coincidence. when mammals eat the chilies they grind up the seeds and digest them, but birds swallow the seeds whole and do not digest them.  After the seeds pass through the digestive system, they are spread out to different areas. This process means that the birds that commonly eat the chilies help the plants reproduce while absorbing the nutrients that the chilies provide.

Mycorrhizal Fungi:

     Another symbiotic relationship that has been studied with not only the Bhut jolokia, but most chilies is its region, is the effect of arbuscular, mycorrhizal fungi when present with in the root system. The Fungi aids the roots in capturing and absorbing vital nutrients such as phosphorous, nitrogen, and sulfur.  When compared to chili plants with out this fungi, the ones with the fungi experienced accelerated maturation and were overall healthier.  The nutrients gained benefits both of the organisms, making this a mutualistic relationship   


Phytophthora root rot is a  disease of chili peppers that is caused by the fungi Phytophthora capsici. This disease causes the plant to wilt, lose its leaves, and eventually die. Chili plants usually become infected with this after a heavy rain or flood combined with high heat.  This fungi is also known to cause spotting on the fruit, leaves, and stems of its host. 



Rhizoctonia root rot is caused by the fungi Rhizoctonia solani. This fungi begins by infecting the lower stem. After moving up and down the stem, reddish-brown lesions appear on the plant.  eventually the fungi will produce a false set of roots and steal the nutrients away from the plant causing it to die.