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Enabling the Next Generation of Medicinal Breeding: Understanding terpene chemotypes in cannabis

Published: Dec 12, 2018   

Terpenes give cannabis its distinctive odors and flavors, and so variation in terpene content is a very important factor differentiating strains. As we look forward to a new industry wave of craft and medicinal breeding, it is clear that a full understanding of the genetic basis of oil profile variation will be an essential starting point. We have combined extensive terpene profile data with modern genomic approaches to identify the full set of genes (or close to it) responsible for producing the large range of terpenes found in this plant. With this knowledge in hand, we are mapping genetic variants to oil profile variation, which we hope will provide a roadmap for breeding to specific terpene profile end-points. Dr. Allen will discuss our work so far, discussing patterns we’ve found in the oil profile data, in terms of specific enzymology across different strains. This puzzle is further complicated by the multi-product nature of most terpene synthases and tissue-specific expression of different enzymes that make the same product, so Dr. Allen will additionally provide attendees with a primer on the fascinating peculiarities of the synthases that make these molecules.

Dr Keith Allen, Director of Bioinformatics, Steep Hill was speaking at The Science of Cannabis Online Symposium 2018. 

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