Researchers make history by learning exactly which genes produce THC and CBD in the cannabis plant

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Researchers make history by learning exactly which genes produce THC and CBD in the cannabis plant

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

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Seven years ago, the genome of the cannabis plant was sequenced by Medicinal Genomics, resulting in an assemblage of the largest known gene collection of the green plant.

However, researchers have only just figured out how to isolate the cannabis genes that produce CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). As the two most commonly occurring cannabis chemicals, the breakthrough scientific discovery is pretty incredible.

Researchers from Canada and the United States engaged in the scientific experiments, which successfully determined which cannabis genes are responsible for producing the plant’s naturally-occurring psychoactive and medicinal chemicals.

Previous attempts to isolate cannabis genes were unsuccessful“Junk DNA” got in the way of previous attempts to isolate the cannabis genes. This term was used by the researchers to describe the genetic information that has been added to the genome of cannabis over many, many years of evolution. How? By viruses. Those viruses help to deliver as much as 70-75 percent of cannabis and hemp DNA.

“You can only manipulate a gene when you know where it is located,” said study contributor Harm van Bakel. “And you also need to know something about the rest of the sequencing in the genome so that you can uniquely target the gene of interest and not be sidetracked by…other things that look similar,” he explained to The Toronto Star.

The accumulation of “junk DNA” made it difficult for researchers to accurately target THC and CBD genes, contributing to the ever-increasing potency of cannabis genes over the years.

When exposed to “junk DNA,” cellular mechanisms may cause genetic defects in cannabis plants. According to a molecular geneticist who works at the University of Toronto’s Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research named Tim Hughes, viral DNA has “almost certainly” contributed to the increasing development of cannabis’ THC and CBD genes.

Discovery of cannabis genes will make it easier to grow weed of specific potencies

Thanks to the discovery of specific cannabis genes that produce THC and CBD, scientists will now be able to grow the plant according to their desires. Cultivating weed with a certain level of the mind-altering compound THC and its highly therapeutic non-psychotropic cousin CBD is going to become a reality for scientists; something that will undoubtedly contribute to the swelling consumer demographic.

According to Statista, approximately 234 million people around the world consumed cannabis in 2016. Furthermore, the researchers can use their findings to ascertain specifically which cannabis genes are responsible for producing different types of terpenes – the aromatic chemicals that give each strain its signature scent and flavor.