Applying Genomic tools to Cannabis Breeding
Humans share a long history with Cannabis, perhaps going back even further back than the dawn of agriculture. As such this plant has traveled the world alongside humanity, consequent introductions of novel variants into the pool of genetics available to farmers and breeders has been both diverse and poorly recorded. While a general consensus has been reached in terms of the general classification of Cannabis into four groups: European Hemp and Chinese Hemp (which can be characterized by low psychoactive potential) and "sativa" and "indica" drug-type plants, the numerous other traits displayed by the genus have been given little attention. The availability of genomic resources for Cannabis now enables us to implement marker assisted selection programs aimed at identifying the particular genetic variant(s) responsible for traits of interest, such as cannabinoid, terpenoid and anthocyanin profiles responsible for the pharmacological, recreational and coloration properties of common strains. As this information becomes available to breeders, one can only expect that the monopoly enjoyed by some clandestine and licensed operations will be thwarted by brute force produced by the creative and intuitive farmers that have cultivated this plant and introduced and maintained genetic variation into the gene pool of this fascinating domesticated plant. Major benefits include the acceleration of targeted homozygosity.
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