Cuphea, a genus of nearly 300 species, has two major centres of diversity, Mexico and eastern Brazil (Koehne, 1903; Graham, 1988). The USDA-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR), Peoria, Illinois, identified several Cuphea species with seed oils rich in medium chain-length fatty acids (MCFAs) during the 1950s (Earle et al., 1960). During the 1980s, researchers began to domesticate Cuphea as an annual crop adapted to temperate conditions (Hirsinger and Knowles, 1984; Thompson, 1984). This research has involved USDA-ARS, Oregon State University and industry funding.
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