By / April 7, 2020

Studies indicate the Cannabis genome was only half mapped

A thorough analysis of data and studies has woken scientists up. This analysis showed that only 50% of the cannabis genome has been mapped. So there is a lot to learn before the full medicinal potential of the plant can be exploited.

An international study, led by researchers from the University of Saskatchewan and published in the Annual Review of Plant Biology, examined how much researchers actually know about cannabis genetics. The study revealed that less than half of the cannabis genome – genetics – has been mapped.

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Mapping the cannabis genome, a difficult but doable task

The research team also concluded that mapping the entire cannabis genome requires a coordinated scientific effort. However, once researchers completely discover the cannabis genome, it will greatly benefit the application of medical cannabis.

The authors of the review concluded that there are large gaps in scientific knowledge about cannabis. The team consisted of scientists from the Netherlands, Germany and the US discovered that less than 50% of the cannabis genome has been accurately mapped. Approximately 10% of the genetic code is missing, and another 10% to 25% has never been mapped.

“Given the importance of genetics in the development of any crop, this analysis underlines the need for a concerted effort to quantify the genetic and biochemical diversity of this species,” said the authors.

Plant scientist and lead author of the study, Tim Sharbel, added that “this means we don’t have the basis on which to build a molecular breeding program for cannabis. One that is comparable to what exists for other crops.”

“Developing a high-quality genetic blueprint provides building blocks for genetics-based breeding and applications for human and animal health while strengthening partnerships between academia and industry,” the scientist said.

Obtaining the missing genetic code is crucial to establishing a core set of genotypes. This collection can be used by scientists worldwide to study different cannabis characteristics.

After all, this knowledge should make us even better at breeding new types of cannabis. Species that grow and flower optimally. But, above all, cannabis varieties which can be used for specific health problems such as pain, spasticity in multiple sclerosis and a reduction in the use of opioids.

Research analysis showed the side-effects and risks of THC

The analysis also mentioned some negative short-term effects of THC, a very beneficial but also psychoactive substance in cannabis. These include reduced cognitive functions, increased anxiety and fatigue. It can also generate possible long-term effects on memory, intelligence, mental focus, and judgment, as well as dependence. These side effects only occur after the consumption of a certain dose for a long period of time.

“It is crucial to recognise cannabis and cannabinoids as medical products with benefits and associated risks, as would be the case when investigating any new drug,” according to the authors.

Finally, the team also noted that there is evidence of the development of hemp-like cannabis as a food source. This may result in a highly digestible, protein-rich food that is unlikely to cause allergic reactions.

Sharbel also noted that the recent social and government acceptance of cannabis is fuelling interest in medical applications. He is looking for partners in the medicinal plant industry to fund academic research that identifies, compares and fully utilizes the closely related genetics of cannabis, hemp, and hops.

“This initiative must be part of an industry-driven effort to exchange resources and improve cannabis, hemp, and hops for medicinal and industrial properties,” he said.


(Featured Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay)

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