A new technology is emerging on the distant horizon for the home-grown cannabis market, Dutch Passion call it ‘Clone seed’ technology. In simple terms a clone seed is a very small sample of genetic material from a carefully selected elite cannabis plant. This genetic material is placed inside a small quantity of gel and may also have a synthetic ‘shell’ around the outside.
Clone seeds, they look different to normal seeds but are attracting a lot of interest
The clone-seed grows like a normal seed into an adult female cannabis plant which is genetically identical to the original mother plant – just like a cutting. It would mean that a seed supplier would grow hundreds of seeds to select that very, very special individual specimen. It might be the most Blueberryish of Blueberry plants. Or that killer White Widow pheno which you have spent years trying to find. Or that Skunk #1 with the special flavours, rotting cheese aroma’s, insane yields and highly potent buds.
Clone seeds are a little but like getting a clone of the original, but the genetic material is suspended in a gel. Unlike or cuttings which produce small numbers of plants, clone seeds can allow mass production of plants that are genetically identical to the original. Genetic material is extracted from the mother plant and the cells reproduced in the laboratory cultures. It allows an unlimited number of clone seeds to be made. It is a technology which was originally a dream by botanists looking for ways of mass producing copies of top-performing vegetable and fruit plants.
Some people call this technology ‘artificial seeds’, we think this is a misleading name as there is nothing artificial about the result. The grower would know exactly what they are getting, all the hard work would have been done by the seed supplier to find the original elite mother plants. All you do is plant them in the confidence that you know exactly what you are getting.
People know how to extract the somatic-embryo’s. They know which hydro-gels give good results with this special ‘somatic embryo’ plant tissue. They have even identified the right type of material for making the shell out of. The ‘somatic embryo’ can be thought of as the plant equivalent to human stem cells.
The clone seeds are roughly the same size as normal cannabis seeds, but they are often transparent with a green central core of genetic material which, when planted, will grow roots, leaves and bud which is genetically identical to the mother plant. Experiments have been done to dessicate or ‘dry’ the clone seeds. It is still early days, there is a lot to learn. No-one knows if or when they will arrive. They may need to be stored in a fridge to keep them dormant, but many people already do this routinely with cannabis seeds anyhow.
This technology has already been applied to cannabis, and it works, but it is one thing to demonstrate the technology and another to commercialise it. As laws stand today there may be legal problems as this is technically ‘living’ marijuana plant tissue which might be deemed illegal in some countries. But in some US states cuttings can be bought openly under the medical marijuana laws, the same is true in Austria. So in some area’s clone seeds might be a legal alternative to cuttings. Other countries might need to wait for marijuana laws to liberalise.
March 16th 2012
What of the advantages and disadvantages?
One of the disadvantages will be that this is new. That alone will start the alarm bells ringing for some of the traditionalists. But this technology is really no different to taking cuttings (clones). It would also completely eliminate the genetic variability which inherently comes from a pack of natural seeds. Some growers and private breeders thrive on the subtle differences which come from naturally grown seed stock. No-one is saying that clone seeds would entirely replace normal seeds, however I do believe that clone-seed would be highly attractive to a large number of private self-sufficient growers one day in the future..
The advantages of clone-seed is that it would allow the home-grower to get absolutely the best possible genetics. One comment we regularly get is from home-growers is that a pack of seeds produces similar plants but with some variations in appearance, colour, taste, smell or potency. Seed suppliers do their best to improve consistency of plants grown from seed. And the best seed producers are very good at it. But one of the frustrations can be that despite making seeds from some of the finest marijuana plants the offspring have a natural genetic diversity. They may be very similar to a parent but not quite identical. With clone seeds that genetic variability becomes a thing of the past. In the future it may well be that the suppliers embark on massive project to find the best cannabis specimens ever grown and mass produce clone seeds from tissue extracted and grown from them.
The world of cannabis just keeps evolving ! We will keep you informed as we found out more but don’t expect to see anything too soon. This is embryonic technology in more ways than one.