There are several reasons why our people enjoy cannabis, but they typically boil in one of two things: THC (the tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive ingredient that takes you up like a bird. and CBD (cannabis diol), which are mainly sought for its pharmaceutical effects in the treatment of conditions such as epilepsy and potentially other health benefits. As it turns out, you can thank millions of years ago for viruses to distribute cannabis the ability to produce these two chemicals.
In the latest issue of Genome Research, a team of North American scientists first published a full map of the cannabis genome. Among the myriad interesting ideas for the collection of the chart is the finding that genes encoding THC and CBD production evolved thanks to the DNA fragments introduced by viruses infected by the plant and successfully colonizing the genome millions of years ago.
Other new ideas from the map include the discovery of the gene responsible for CBC (cannabinoid – one of the cannabinoids found in marijuana), cannabis and marijuana (the former mainly produces CBD while the latter is full of THC ). and clues about what can make different hemp stronger and stronger than others.
"One of the problems with cannabis reproduction was the resources related to genome testing," says Todd Michael, director of Informatics at the J. Craig Venter Institute in La Jolla, California, who did not participate in the study. Many of the work so far has involved a trial and error random breeding process in another without much knowing what particular genetic features they will carry. "A resource like a genetic map is really the starting point for high quality reproduction for any plant," says Michael. "All very important crops need these."
But in the past, obstacles have led to the development of such a map for cannabis. Legislation has prevented researchers from studying and experimenting easily with the plant, even in controlled laboratory environments. Above this, it is inherently difficult to map the genome of cannabis due to its relatively large size. The larger the genome, the more difficult it is to categorize, so it has taken so long for scientists to map and understand the human genome. The difficulty in sequencing and assembly of the cannabis genome has been enhanced by viral data. See, both THC and CBD are derived from synthase genes found on the same chromosome. But these synthase genes are flocking from corrupted DNA fragments called retrotransposons, which came from – you guessed – the viruses. Over time, millions of infectious DNA elements have multiplied and spread throughout the genome. The THC and CBD synthase genes are stably nested in these elements.
The THC and CBD synthase genes are derived from a single gene, and the virus retrotransposons, as they leaped and expanded, led to the mutation of the synthase gene sequences in different cannabis strains, promoting the deviation of the gene to THCA in marijuana; CBDA (CBD production) on cannabis. Michael suggests that the transferred elements have the ability to transport and transport the synthase gene around themselves as they have leaped across the genome.
The team behind the document previously published a genome plan in 2011, although it was very fragmented to show where specific genes were detected in chromosomes. Another genetics company unveiled a cannabis genome map in February, but has not yet published the findings.
According to Michael, possession of the genome, fully mapped, will be "revolutionary" for the cannabis industry. Industry experts will have much easier time to determine what features they will choose to deliver strains that are easier and faster to grow. But in addition to turning cannabis into a better cultivation, the map of the genome should also have a significant impact on fine-tuning the strain's ability to produce THC, CBD and hundreds of other cannabis-specific cannabinoids.
"Having a genetic map in combination with a high-quality genome could allow scientists to target specific pathways, especially for people who are interested in the psychoactive components of cannabis," says Michael. For example, you could modify the terpene profile on the hemp to adjust the height you receive from the unit. You could also change what kind of scents the plant produces. Armed with the genome map, researchers could still use a tool like CRISPR to directly process these features at a genetic level.
While the role of ancient viral components in the evolutionary history of THC and CBD production is a neat knowledge for most scientists, it is not all that amazing. "Generally, this is basically the way the plants evolve," says Michael. "I'm not really sure why the media got it so aggressively." Researchers have long known that retrotransposons have viral roots. "We know that the size of the genome in plants is almost 100% due to the expansion of retrotransposons, which is not new and we know they play an important role in plant evolution."
Michael, on the other hand, claims that the most critical aspects of the document have to do with depicting genes that may or may not be active, as this will give researchers a better understanding of the signs that are worth shaking and the areas that need to be to be avoided.
Michael is particularly excited about the future of high CBD products as a substitute for opioids. "We have a huge epidemic of opioids," he says, "and it has been shown that CBD and THC can play a role in the management of pain."
Ultimately, the new genetic map is sure to promote a series of new tasks in recreational and medical applications of cannabis. "There's a lot of work going out," says Michael. "Next year we will see a lot of really fantastic things about cannabis genomics."