Genomic and Chemical Diversity in Cannabis

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Ryan C LynchNolan C Kane


Plants of the Cannabis genus are the only producers of phytocannabinoids, terpenoid compounds that strongly interact with evolutionarily ancient endocannabinoid receptors shared by most bilaterian taxa. For millennia, the plant has been cultivated for these compounds, but also for food, rope, paper, and clothing. Today, specialized varieties yielding high-quality textile fibers, nutritional seed oil or high cannabinoid content are cultivated across the globe. However, the genetic identities and histories of these diverse populations remain largely obscured. We analyzed the nuclear genomic diversity among 340 Cannabis varieties, including fiber and seed oil hemp, high cannabinoid drug-types and feral populations. These analyses demonstrate the existence of at least three major groups of diversity, with European hemp varieties more closely related to narrow leaflet drug-types (NLDT) than to broad leaflet drug-types (BLDT). The BLDT group appears to encompass less diversity than the NLDT, which reflects the larger geographic range of NLDTs, and suggests a more recent origin of domestication of the BLDTs. As well as being genetically distinct, hemp, NLDT and BLDT genetic groups each produce unique cannabinoid and terpenoid content ...Continue Reading

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