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Polyploid Cannabis. What is polyploid cannabis?

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Polyploid cannabis is a chromosome-related variation of normal cannabis. It offers the possibility of heavier harvests and stronger effects. To understand polyploid cannabis we need to start by looking at chromosomes. A chromosome is made of DNA. It contains part, or all, of the genetic material for that organism. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes, one from each parent. In humans there are two paired chromosomes in each set, this is know as diploidy. Cannabis is also a diploid species. But if you have three or more sets of chromosomes (instead of two) the organism is said to exhibit polyploid characteristics. Polyploid cannabis would have 3, or more, paired chromosomes instead of the normal two.

 

What is polyploid cannabis. Will polyploid cannabis have more THC?

Cannabis, like humans, usually shows diploid behaviour. Normally two chromosomes are present in each pair, one set of chromosomes is inherited from each parent. This means that the dominant characteristics of a particular cannabis variety are inherited from the parents. This is the basis of cannabis breeding. However, some professional research work has been ongoing to see what benefits polyploid cannabis would offer. Specifically the work is looking at differences between normal female and polyploid female cannabis plants during bloom. Investigations will focus on many aspects including comparative ease of growth, cannabinoid content, terpene content and harvest quantities.

 
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Polyploid cannabis seeds. The biggest new development since feminized cannabis seeds?

Polyploid cannabis seeds represent a completely new approach to cannabis growing. Several years of laboratory work would be required to create, stabilise and assess the polyploid results. There are several advantages and disadvantages to polyploidy in plants. One of the main reasons why there is such huge interest in creating polyploid cannabis is to increase plant vigor (heterosis). This could improve yields and potency of the cannabis crops. The extra set (or sets) of cannabis chromosomes may allow for different growth rates and higher cannabinoid content. These days, cannabis is a multi $billion crop with huge recreational and medical markets. Any methods to further improve potency and yields are of serious interest. Those with most to gain are probably the largest commercial cannabis growers, where even small improvements to potency and yield can add $millions to revenue. If polyploid cannabis seeds can be produced at affordable prices they would also be of real interest to cannabis home growers. Most home growers only buy a few cannabis seeds each year and tend to focus on getting the highest yields and highest potency from the minimum number of plants. So polyploid cannabis seeds will be just as appealing to home growers as they would be to legal licensed producers.

 

Are polyploid cannabis seeds available yet?

Work has been ongoing for some time to create stable polyploid cannabis genetics. If the work is successful it is quite likely that polyploid cannabis seeds will become available in the coming years. Initially it is thought that professional cannabis growers in place like e.g. North America will be most interested in polyploid seeds. Just a few percentage points added to the annual yields or average crop potency can be the difference between becoming a market leader or losing market share. Researchers hope that polyploid cannabis seeds will produce plants with a higher cannabinoid content and heavier yields than non-polyploid cannabis seeds. If that proves to be the case then feminized polyploid cannabis seeds will become the new benchmark for quality. Though it is worth advising caution, and saying that any production of polyploid cannabis seeds is likely to be in relatively modest quantities. At least initially. If polyploid cannabis has significant advantages over traditional cannabis there will be huge interest from growers of all kinds.

 

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Will polyploid seeds be the next cannabis seed revolution?

Originally only regular cannabis seeds existed. These produce male and female plants in equal quantities. Feminized cannabis seeds were first created by Dutch Passion in the 1990’s. At the time feminized seeds were seen as a revolution in convenience for growers. Nowadays, feminized cannabis seeds are seen as the standard and are used by most growers. Autoflowering cannabis seeds have been a success in more recent years, making cannabis growing easier and faster for millions of indoor and outdoor cannabis growers. CBD-rich cannabis seed varieties were developed and have proved incredibly useful, especially for medical cannabis growers. Selective breeding is currently underway to bring new varieties enriched in cannabinoids such as THC-V and CBG. Cannabis breeders and professional seed companies are investing heavily and working hard to squeeze every possible benefit out of our beloved cannabis plant. If successful, polyploid cannabis seeds could be the next major evolution in the world of cannabis growing. Scientific interest in polyploid cannabis has been gathering pace as the value of medical/recreational cannabis markets soar. This research paper gives some technical insight into the subject. The Robert Connell Clarke book ‘Polyploid Review’ can be read online here.

 

 

Is Polyploid cannabis the same as genetically modified cannabis?

No. These are two clearly separate technologies. So far no-one has so far made a form of genetically modified (GM) cannabis. Creating a Polyploid organism is a completely different technical approach. Genetically modified crops are known as GM Crops or biotech crops. Making a GM crop means complicated modifications to the DNA using expensive high-tech genetic engineering. This has been done for food crops to increase resistance to pest, drought etc. GM crops now account for 12% of global crops and and includes crops such as Maize and Soybean, but not cannabis.

 
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Polyploid cannabis - is it natural?

Polyploidism occurs in nature. Plant species such as wheat are a good example of natural polyploidy. Wheat has been bred by humans for thousands of years and breeding has resulted in diploid, tetraploid and hexaploid crops (6 sets of paired chromosomes). Durum wheat is a tetraploid and common bread wheat is a hexaploid. Tetraploidy in Durum wheat is the result of the hybridization of two diploid grass species. Durum wheat contains two sets of chromosomes derived from one parent and two sets of chromosomes from the other. Polyploid plants are no more dangerous than any others.

 

Polyploid cannabis and how it can be induced.

One method is to use the chemical Colchicine. This is found in the Autumn Crocus and is an anti-inflammatory used to treat Gout in humans. Colchicine can be dissolved in water and used to soak cannabis seeds to induce polyploidy. Or it can be applied to growing cannabis plants as a gel. Colchicine induces polyploidy in plant cells by preventing separation of chromosomes during cell division. The result is that half of the resulting (gamete) cells have no chromosomes and the other half have double. Inducing polyploidy is one thing. Being able to control, stabilize and use the benefits productively is another.


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Polyploid cannabis. Work continues.

If the polyploid research on cannabis goes well the implications will be huge for the cannabis industry. Stabilising polyploidy and creating feminized polyploid cannabis seeds will require even more work. If polyploid cannabis can increase either yield or potency then it will be of great interest to the entire cannabis industry. Stay tuned!

 


September 6th 2019
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