Researchers Develop Test to Determine Cannabinoid Dominance in Cannabis

研究人员开发测试来确定大麻中大麻素的优势

2020-12-09 00:07:00 Business Times

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George Weiblen, a professor in the College of Biological Sciences at the University of Minnesota and the science director and curator of plants at the Bell Museum, has been working since 2002 to discover the genetic differences between hemp and marijuana. He’s recently cracked a major component of the code. A research team led by the Weiblen Lab has developed a genetic test that can predict whether cannabis will produce mostly cannabidiol (CBD) or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), having broad implications for both cannabis and hemp industries. The team’s findings were recently published in the American Journal of Botany. While Weiblen acknowledges that other similar tests have been developed, the University of Minnesota’s research and test delve deeper into the biology and mechanisms behind why the test works. In other words, they’ve discovered on the molecular level why certain cannabis varieties produce more CBD and why others produce more THC. “We are looking at the genes that are ultimately responsible for the pattern we see,” Weiblen tells Cannabis Business Times and Hemp Grower. “What we’ve done is proven our model across lots of different kinds of cannabis, from industrial hemp to medicinal cannabis to feral ditchweed [wild hemp].” How it Works Weiblen says across all types of cannabis, a small area of their chromosomes determines whether the plant will be one of three types: CBD-dominant, THC-dominant or intermediate with approximately equal levels of each. The team found these consistencies by studying more than 350 different samples of cannabis. (The Weiblen Lab has a DEA research registration and obtained drug cannabis from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.) The lab test developed by the research team homes in on one gene: the gene for CBD. This gene has two variations that result in it either producing CBD or failing to produce CBD, Weiblen says. Those variations are different sizes on the chromosome, so the test measures the length of the gene to determine which variation it is. “Just like in humans, where we have two copies of each chromosome, so does cannabis,” Weiblen says. “As a plant, you can either have two working copies of the CBD gene, two faulty copies of the CBD gene, or one of each. How much CBD [the plant makes] depends on which of those three combinations you have.” It’s much like hair types for humans. For example, if a mother has curly hair and a father has straight hair, their child’s hair could be either curly, straight or something in between. Interestingly, Weiblen’s team also found the gene for THC is tied to the gene for CBD, and the two interplay to produce the three different types of cannabis. A Surprising Discovery During the team’s research, they studied feral hemp populations across Minnesota. And while a majority of those samples met the legal definition of hemp at 0.3% THC or less, others were more complex. In an unexpected finding, Weiblen discovered that roughly one in 10 feral hemp plants in Minnesota had potential to exceed the legal definition of hemp at maturity. They found 11% of their samples were intermediate-type cannabis, while 1% was THC-type.   “We found a marijuana needle in the hemp haystack,” Weiblen says. It’s important to note that the amount of cannabinoids cannabis produces is a different story. Even if cannabis is THC-type, it could still potentially produce so few cannabinoids that it remains within compliance of the federal definition of hemp. While “the ratio of cannabinoids is entirely a genetic phenomenon,” Weiblen says, different environmental factors have been shown to dictate how much cannabinoid content cannabis actually produces. Still, this finding raised questions for Weiblen, especially as many hemp growers and all cannabis growers are looking to not only produce cannabinoids, but also maximize them. As such, the researchers have suggested changing the definitions of “hemp” and “marijuana” to align with their findings—instead of defining different cannabis varieties by the amount of cannabinoids they produce, which is reliant on outside factors and can vary wildly, the researchers propose defining them by their cannabinoid “types.” “As a botanist, we don’t classify plants based on how people use them, but how they differ [genetically],” Weiblen says, adding that the definitions of hemp and marijuana carry both confusion and, in some case, negative connotations. “Now that we see public policy and public perceptions around cannabis really changing, we suggest maybe it’s time to define types of cannabis around their cannabinoid content rather than carry with us all the historical baggage.” Implications for the Hemp Industry Beyond public policy implications, the research team’s findings could also make it easier for cannabinoid producers to choose their genetics—an improvement that is sorely needed in the nascent hemp industry especially. Some hemp farmers are still having difficulty with hot crops that exceed the federal THC limit. This has been due, in part, to troubles sourcing reliable genetics. Weiblen says this new test could be a good first step in preventing hot crops. Successful crops start with good genetics, and Weiblen envisions seed certification organizations using this test to help eliminate THC-type cannabis from ever reaching hemp growers’ hands. “One advantage of our test if it’s applied is that it can give farmers some assurance of what is the predominant cannabinoid they’re going to see in their plants,” Weiblen says. “They don’t have to wait until end of growing season to learn that.”
明尼苏达大学生物科学学院教授,贝尔博物馆的科学主管兼植物馆长乔治·韦伯伦从2002年开始致力于发现大麻和大麻的基因差异。 他最近破译了密码的一个主要部分。 Weiblen实验室领导的一个研究小组开发了一种基因测试方法,可以预测大麻主要产生的是大麻二醇(CBD)还是四氢大麻醇(THC),这对大麻和大麻工业都有广泛的影响。 该团队的发现最近发表在《美国植物学杂志》上。 虽然Weiblen承认其他类似的测试已经被开发出来了,但是明尼苏达大学的研究和测试更深入地探究了为什么这种测试能起作用的生物学和机制。换句话说,他们在分子水平上发现了为什么某些大麻品种产生更多的CBD,而其他品种产生更多的THC。 Weiblen在接受《大麻商业时报》和《大麻种植者》采访时说:“我们正在研究最终导致我们所看到的模式的基因。”“我们所做的已经证明了我们的模式适用于许多不同种类的大麻,从工业大麻到药用大麻,再到野生的沟草(野生大麻)。” 它是如何工作的 Weiblen说,在所有类型的大麻中,它们染色体的一小块区域决定了植物是否属于三种类型:CBD显性,THC显性或中间类型,每种类型的染色体水平大致相等。 研究小组通过研究350多个不同的大麻样本发现了这些一致性。(Weiblen实验室拥有DEA研究注册,并从国家药物滥用研究所获得大麻毒品。) 该研究小组开发的实验室检测方法基于一种基因:CBD基因。Weiblen说,这种基因有两种变异,导致它要么产生CBD,要么不产生CBD。那些变异在染色体上大小不一,所以测试测量基因的长度来确定是哪种变异。 Weiblen说:“就像人类一样,我们每条染色体都有两个拷贝,大麻也是如此。”“作为一种植物,你可以有两个CBD基因的工作拷贝,也可以有两个CBD基因的错误拷贝,或者每一个都有一个。工厂生产多少CBD取决于这三种组合中的哪一种。“ 很像人类的头发类型。例如,如果母亲是卷发,父亲是直发,那么他们孩子的头发可能是卷发,直发或者介于两者之间。 有趣的是,Weiblen的研究小组还发现THC基因与CBD基因相关联,两者相互作用产生三种不同类型的大麻。 令人惊讶的发现 在团队的研究过程中,他们研究了整个明尼苏达州的野生大麻种群。虽然这些样品中的大多数符合大麻的法律定义,THC含量为0.3%或更低,但其他样品则更为复杂。 韦布伦出人意料地发现,在明尼苏达州,大约每10株野生大麻中就有一株在成熟时可能超过大麻的法律定义。他们发现11%的样本是中间型大麻,1%是THC型大麻。 “我们在大麻草堆里发现了一根大麻针,”Weiblen说。 需要注意的是,大麻产生的大麻素的数量是另一回事。即使大麻是THC型的,它仍然可能产生很少的大麻素,从而仍然符合联邦对大麻的定义。Weiblen说,虽然“大麻素的比例完全是一种遗传现象”,但不同的环境因素已经被证明决定了大麻实际产生的大麻素含量。 尽管如此,这一发现还是给Weiblen提出了一些问题,特别是因为许多大麻种植者和所有大麻种植者都在寻求不仅生产大麻素,而且将其最大化。 因此,研究人员建议改变“hemp”和“marijuana”的定义,使之与他们的研究结果相一致--不是根据大麻产生的大麻素数量来定义不同的大麻品种,因为这依赖于外界因素,可能会有很大的差异,而是根据它们的大麻素“类型”来定义它们。 Weiblen说:“作为一个植物学家,我们并不是根据人们如何使用植物来分类,而是根据它们的遗传差异来分类。”他补充说,大麻和大麻的定义既令人困惑,在某些情况下还带有负面的含义。“现在我们看到有关大麻的公共政策和公众观念确实发生了变化,我们建议也许是时候根据大麻素的含量来界定大麻的种类了,而不是带着所有的历史包袱。” 对大麻工业的影响 除了公共政策的影响,研究小组的发现还可以使大麻生产商更容易地选择他们的基因--尤其是新生的大麻产业迫切需要这种改进。 一些大麻种植者仍然难以种植超过联邦THC限制的高温作物。这在一定程度上是由于寻找可靠基因的困难。 Weiblen说,这项新的测试可能是防止作物受热的良好的第一步。成功的作物是从良好的基因开始的,Weiblen设想种子认证组织使用这种测试来帮助消除大麻种植者手中的THC型大麻。 Weiblen说:“我们试验的一个好处是,如果它被应用,它可以给农民一些保证,什么是主要的大麻素,他们将在他们的植物中看到,”“他们不必等到生长季结束才知道这一点。”

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