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TUMI Genomics Announces Research Partnership to Understand the Economic Impact of Hop Latent Viroid on Cannabis Harvests

Original story from TUMI Genomics

Published: Aug 10, 2023   
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Image credit: TUMI Genomics

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TUMI Genomics, a leading provider of cannabis diagnostic services and products, and SpexAI GmbH, a game-changing AI-driven imaging company to streamline cannabis cultivation, announce a collaboration with StateHouse Holdings, Inc., to study the relationship between viroid concentration and subsequent crop yield and quality in hop latent viroid-infected cannabis plants. These collaborative efforts seek to produce a predictive measure for cannabis crop yields based on viroid infection level and frequency.

Hop latent viroid (HLVd, HLV or HpLVd), is a pathogen that threatens cannabis plants, causing significant yield loss and lowering harvest quality. This small, single-stranded RNA molecule can infect the plant without causing obvious symptoms in the vegetative phase, making it difficult to detect and control before it is too late.

Despite initial identification of HLVd in 2019, very little is known about how this infection impacts yield across various cultivars and how viroid load influences overall loss. This research partnership focuses on understanding the economic impact of harvesting HLVd-infected plants at maturity as well as understanding how the growth stage on initial infection affects yield. This project’s data will be used to establish a cost-benefit analysis of cultivating infected plants and help growers understand how the level and stage of infection impacts this ratio. 

Since the initial detection, HLVd testing, prevention, and treatment have been at the forefront of research studies in the cannabis industry. However, this particular research partnership focuses on understanding the economic impact of harvesting HLVd-infected plants at maturity. This project’s data will be used to establish a cost-benefit analysis of cultivating an infected plant.

“While HLVd causes major economic losses in the cannabis industry, we don’t really have a complete understanding of how much is lost to this viroid and how viroid load impacts outcome,” said Dr. Tassa Saldi, chief science officer. 

“This research collaboration is really exciting because we will be able to use the results to shape guidelines and predictions for cultivators dealing with HLVd-infected plants. Knowing how the growth stage of infection impacts yield will allow us to fine-tune phytosanitary recommendations depending on predicted threats during clone, veg, and flower stages. The data produced will allow us to help growers develop the most efficient, cost-effective pathogen mitigation programs possible.”

Under this collaboration, StateHouse cultivators will work with TUMI Genomics to conduct research on HLVd, including selecting strains with stronger HLVd resistance, and analyzing how viroid concentration impacts crop yield and quality. In this experiment, multiple cannabis strains will be tested for viroid levels from mother to clone, and onto vegetative and flowering stages and compared against non-infected controls TUMI Genomics will provide testing throughout the experiment using its validated pathogen tests and the TUMIGlow testing platform. 

“Understanding and mitigating the devastating effects of hop latent viroid in cannabis production is not just critical, it's imperative to the future of this burgeoning industry. Statehouse's partnership with leaders in plant pathology and smart farming technology signifies a significant step forward in ensuring sustainable cannabis cultivation,” says Travis Higginbotham, vice president cultivation for Statehouse. 

“We firmly believe that harnessing the collective technical expertise of this consortium is not merely an option, but a singular pathway to a resilient, productive and thriving cannabis industry.”

Uniquely positioned, SpexAI will leverage its pioneering multispectral imaging device Hugin and advanced deep neural networks Odin, conducting daily scans on all plants and strains. The ultimate objective: not just gathering data but revolutionizing early HLVd detection to preempt potential outbreaks. This proactive approach from SpexAI ensures that early signs of infection are identified, enhancing overall plant health, and productivity.

“HLVd stealthily compromises cannabis cultivation. Our exploratory research at SpexAI, leveraging Hugin and Odin, aims to shed light on this hidden adversary, opening new possibilities in early viroid detection. It's not just about solving a problem – it's about pioneering a new path in the industry,” said Ben Niehaus, co-founder and chief technology officer.

The results of this collaboration are expected to have far-reaching consequences for the cannabis industry. This research will further understanding of HLVd biology, develop data-driven recommendations that will help cultivators assess crop ROI, and provide initial insights on the viroid resistance of various strains. Furthermore, the integration of advanced technology will showcase a new standard in production methodologies, leading to more precise and efficient strategies for maintaining crop health and maximizing productivity.

This article has been republished from materials provided by TUMI Genomics. Note: material may have been edited for length and content. For further information, please contact the cited source.


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