CANADIAN SCIENTISTS SUCCESSFULLY MAP THE MARIJUANA GENOME
- December 5, 2018
Do we really know that much about marijuana? For thousands of years, this little green plant has been at the heart of healing and agricultural practices across various countries including China, Greece, and Arabia before making its way to the shores of North America. Now, in a shocking twist of fate, this fragrant, mind-altering herb has moved front and center to the stage of a huge debate that, simply put, has taken the world by storm. Now, with Australia taking its turn in the effort to learn more about medical marijuana, it is Canada’s turn to wow watchers across the globe. Recently, scientists from the University of Toronto (U of T) have officially mapped the marijuana genome, opening up a new doorway that (for a time) could never be unlocked. Let’s take a closer look at this spectacular discovery and see what it could mean for the rest of the marijuana community.
A Few Genes and Duplicate Viruses
As part of the project, Tim Price and his U of T research team identified the key difference between the cannabis plant and the hemp plant (a variety of Sativa). Through a careful examination via supercomputers, the group found that both plants contain related enzymes that allow the occurrence of CBD and THC in the exact, same chromosome. Interestingly, as Price pointed out, cannabis does not contain a particularly large quantity of genes (unlike more aggressive, sectioned DNA), which do not regularly segregate. In fact, both hemp and cannabis contain 80% of the same proteins.
Imagine the similarities between a Newfoundland and a Pug. Both animals are dogs, but their genetic differences make them unique breeds.
Thank You, Mister Virus!
Based on a report from U of T News, a combination of human selection and a virus were responsible for the development of medicinal properties in cannabis. During the study, the research team found that the ancestral synthase gene’s duplicate and a collection of growing retroelements forced ancient cannabis plants to split into different types. As a result, some plants are rich with THC while others do not have potent psychoactive materials.
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