There’s no reason to be scared of genetically-modified marijuana. It could be the best bud you’ve ever had.
GMO can be a bit of a dirty word, especially if you’re a devotee of organic food. Many people think GMOs are unhealthy. But, where cannabis is concerned, genetic modification can allow us to improve how marijuana is produced.
Ripe For Improvement
The cannabis plant is a wonder of evolution, but in terms of maximizing the amount of medicinally useful molecules — like THC and CBD — that the plant produces, nature could use some juicing up.
As it stands, the only parts of the cannabis plant that produce psychoactive compounds are the trichomes — small hair-like outgrowths on the surface of female cannabis plants’ flowers.
This means that the vast majority of the plant’s biomass, around 90%, from leaves to stalk to stems — are useless from a commercial perspective.
So, imagine the possibilities if the cannabis plant could somehow be re-engineered so that it could produce those THC-bearing trichomes from root to tip. It would mean more than 90% of the plant could be used commercially, rather than being sent straight to the compost heap.
A trichome-saturated cannabis plant would also give producers much more bang for their buck, as it could produce more THC and/or CBD without more water, fertilizer or energy.
But the most radical proposal for engineering cannabis is to get rid of the plant altogether. Stay with me here — it ends up making a lot of sense.
Building Blocks for Bud
Because DNA is the universal genetic language that governs cells’ basic functions — such as the manufacture of proteins, the replication of genetic material and the production of cellular energy — they work the same way in many different organisms.
THCA synthase – the enzyme that synthesizes THC in the cannabis plant — is made out of protein. Because of this, we can determine the genetic sequence that encodes this protein.
“This is easy to do, because the entire genetic sequence of the cannabis plant — the cannabis genome — has already been decoded, and this entire set of information is publically available.”
“Once you determine the genetic sequence that encodes the THCA synthase enzyme, you can use chemicals called restriction enzymes to clip that exact piece of DNA out of the strands of DNA that compose the cannabis genome.”
Now, the researcher has a piece of DNA that encodes the THCA synthase enzyme, and nothing else. This chunk of genetic material can then be inserted into whatever type of organism you desire.
No matter the technology used, or no matter what you think of GMOs, genetic manipulation of the cannabis plant is set to be a huge area of interest now and into the future.
Read the full article at GREENCAMP