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DNA snippet

Researchers Discover the Genes that Make CBD and THC

by | Nov 28, 2018 | Latest News, Rotary Evaporators, Vacuum Ovens

DNA snippet

Snippet of DNA. Image credit: Karl-Ludwig Poggemann, Flickr.

Mapping the Cannabis Genome

The genome for Cannabis sativa, the scientific name for both the cannabis and hemp, was first mapped by Canadian researchers in 2011. Firms like Phylos Bioscience are getting a more detailed look now and isolating certain genes. Due to federal illegality, research into cannabis has lagged. But now that it’s the fastest growing industry in America, a loosening up is occurring, allowing projects to probe deeper into the secrets of the plant. That and new scanners, which can identify tens of thousands of base pairs in DNA at a time, have sped up the unraveling of cannabis DNA and with it, it’s secrets.    

Phylos Bioscience has made it’s sequencing data public, which you can find here. The company also allows growers to send samples of their plants in, in order to receive a report on its genetic information. They’ve sequenced thousands of different plants so far. What’s next is to find out how these genes developed and understand what biochemicals each produces. Now, scientists in a joint US-Canadian venture have identified the genes which produce the psychoactive component THC and non-psychoactive CBD–thought to have a slew of health properties.

Identifying the Origins of these Cannabinoids

Certain genetic alterations occurred in the plant’s past to produce these highly sought after cannabinoids or biochemicals found in cannabis. A newly released chromosome map, showing where certain genes are located on cannabis chromosomes, allowed researchers to identify the origins of CBD and THC. These genes were located among what was previously thought to be “junk” DNA. Such DNA was deposited into the plant’s genome via retroviruses, over the course of its evolution. Researchers believe 70-75% of the plant’s genome originates from viral sources.

Although it sounds creepy, it’s actually quite normal. Tim Hughes, a molecular geneticist at the University of Toronto, told the Toronto Star, “…virtually all organisms have something like this,” meaning leftover viral genes. This includes humans. The cellular mechanism responsible for arranging such genes can be interrupted by viral DNA. This mechanism, according to Hughes, “normally responsible for keeping things tidy and organized gets confused when it sees multiple copies of the same thing, and it makes mistakes.”

Such mistakes lead to the development of new compounds, and researchers believe this process bore us THC and CBD. Besides this discovery, researchers found the genetic underpinnings of the cannabinoid cannabichromene (CBC). CBC is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties. Scientists also found the gene which determines potency. One thing researchers have yet to discover is how CBD, THC, and other such compounds help promote the plant’s survival.

These Discoveries will Affect the Industry

What are the implications? Researchers believe breeding efforts will be sped up. Plants will soon be grown more sustainably. But it goes beyond that. Knowing the location of such genes allows one to manipulate them, meaning one could, at the genetic level, dictate how much CBD or THC a strain contains.

What’s more, plants could be genetically engineered to resist pests and disease. It’ll also allow for the growing of hemp plants completely devoid of THC, for CBD cultivation. These genetic discoveries might also help scientists determine which genes are responsible for a strain’s terpene profile, which determines its unique taste and aroma.

Some in the industry worry that unearthing all of the plant’s genetic information might allow big companies to patent say a certain strain. It could just as well invalidate such a patent, finding that what was once considered a unique strain is actually quite common. Big Pharma, however, may use such genetic information to find out how such cannabinoids are made, then reverse engineer them in a lab, and come out with patents for medications based on them. Phylos Bioscience is fighting against such patenting. Since the information in its database is accessible to everyone, this proves it isn’t new and so, may not be patentable.

Ai Vacuum

With the march toward legal medical and recreational cannabis continuing across the U.S. and the world, many new and established operations are likely to turn to Ai Vacuum for their post-processing needs. Ai Vacuum is the industry leader in polishing equipment. For solvent reclamation, we suggest one of our rotary evaporators. Consider out 10-liter model. It’s reliable, rugged, and easy to operate. 

The water bath goes from ambient temperature to 99°C (210°F). The heating coils are placed directly inside the pan, for the most efficient heating possible. Temperature control is so precise, the PID controller allows you to step up temp at 0.1°C increments. The condenser is extremely efficient, while the motor and worm gear provides quiet, vibration-free rotation, at speeds of 10-180 rpm. Solvent-resistant PTFE and Viton gaskets ensure a long life. Best of all, it comes UL/CSA certified, ensuring you’re in compliance, no matter what market you’re in.

Purging and Winterizing 

If you need to perform a purge, select one of our award-winning AccuTemp vacuum ovens. Our 3.2 CF model is popular. One of the premiere features is internal shelf heating technology. Each shelf gets its own heater, controller, and sensor, allowing you to precisely control the temperature of each. The shelves heat up quickly, with little heat loss to the exterior. All stainless steel, internal tubing provides higher ultimate vacuum, held 10 times longer than other models on the market. All of our AccuTemp ovens also come UL/CSA certified.

Lastly, for winterization or pesticide remediation, have a look at our jacketed glass reactors. Consider our 20-liter model. It’s durable, easy to operate and consistently delivers reliable results. All the sealing internal components are PTFE coated, for solvent resistance. This allows it to last a long time. It has a wide temperature range, from -110°F to 400°F. An adjustable stirring rate with great torque allows for stirring at high speeds. It’s also made of food grade borosilicate glass. This is the most heat, cold, and corrosive-resistant around.

To learn more about cannabis genome mapping, click here:

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