Cannabis | Plant Genomics, Production & Breeding

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The laws surrounding Hemp Farming is a fast changing scene in many countries right now.

However, Prohibition seriously impacted any serious scientific research on this plant, keeping it in the margins. Fortunately this landscape is changing beyond all recognition.

To take cannabis production forward for the medicinal and recreational markets,  scientific research needs to be developed much further in these three critical areas.

More Cannabis Development In Genomics Breeding Production systems

Developments in Cannabis Genomics

This will allow us a far greater insight into the genetic diversity of the genus, both in production facilities, and among those strains still out in the wild, as yet untouched buy crossbreeding.

Some scattered studies have examined the genetic structure of marijuana and hemp, largely however for the purposes of prosecuting the growers… This area of research cshould be expanded with the use of readily available, modern sequencing hardware  to examine genotypic variation related to phenotypic presentation through genome-wide association studies.

You then take your results and apply them in future breeding programs for both hemp (We shall call hemp non-consumable cannabis for the purposes of this article) and Cannabis.

Until recently, the vast majority of Cannabis breeding has been within the black market. Recently several medical marijuana companies and specialist CBD seed breeders have begun intensive breeding programs to produce marijuana strains with desirable attributes for medicinal purposes. Indeed, these seed stocks are the building blocks on which Bordighera Valleys produces Cannabis.

However, the question of genetic stabilisation remains open since marijuana is dioecious (Has the male and female reproductive organs in separate individuals) and the registration of all the various cultivars has not yet been undertaken.

When we consider the topic of Cannabis Production we need to understand the impact of all the various growth parameters that impact total biomass generation (as in, the more crop we can harvest per hectare the better) but most importantly, the production, including the composition and quantity of the cannabinoids produced.

Elements such as nutrient regime, water availability, light quantity and quality, stress on plants and movement in relation to the light sources.  Plant pathogens are also a major challenge, and the longer a species is grown in the same space, the harder this is to stay on top of. 

All of these real word variables can effect output and even change chemotype (a chemically distinct entity in a plant or microorganism, with differences in the composition of the secondary metabolites. Minor genetic and epigenetic changes with little or no effect on morphology or anatomy may produce large changes in the chemical phenotype.) 

Consideration of the application of anti parasite/anti fungal additives to control pathogens can leave undesirable remnants in the end product that is undesirable to the consumer – which is why we grow as closely as possible with the natural rhythms of our surroundings.

Plants have always existed in a close relationship with a community of microbes (the phytomicrobiome) These microbes have been shown to produce signal compounds that even at very low concentrations effect plant growth and their stress responses.

The Phytomicrobiome can also protect the plant host against disease organisms. This area has received minimal investigation for cannabis, and again is something that we are pushing the development of at Bordighera Valleys Farm. Because commercial cannabis is often grown under controlled environment conditions, the ability to manipulate this phytomicorbiome could well result in effective disease control for the whole industry, giving benefits to all members and users of the supply chain.

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Cannabis Research is an area with almost unending scope for development. It encapsulates papers relevant to genomics, breeding and production. At the farm we are most interested in papers containing original research, and are constantly scanning for works that can help us deliver a better product.

Currently, more than 600 Cannabis varieties are commercially available, providing access to a multitude of potent extracts with complex compositions, whose genetics are largely inconclusive. As the research develops so will we. Bordighera Valleys Farm is, and always will be, at the forefront of Cannabis Cultivar Genomics.