Navigation Links
Weeding out marijuana: Researchers close in on engineering recognizable, drug-free Cannabis plant
Date:9/15/2009

In a first step toward engineering a drug-free Cannabis plant for hemp fiber and oil, University of Minnesota researchers have identified genes producing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive substance in marijuana. Studying the genes could also lead to new and better drugs for pain, nausea and other conditions.

The finding is published in the September issue of the Journal of Experimental Botany. Lead author is David Marks, a professor of plant biology in the College of Biological Sciences.

The study revealed that the genes are active in tiny hairs covering the flowers of Cannabis plants. In marijuana, the hairs accumulate high amounts of THC, whereas in hemp the hairs have little. Hemp and marijuana are difficult to distinguish apart from differences in THC.

With the genes identified, finding a way to silence themand thus produce a drug-free plant comes a step closer to reality. Another desirable step is to make drug-free plants visually recognizable. Since the hairs can be seen with a magnifying glass, this could be accomplished by engineering a hairless Cannabis plant.

The researchers are currently using the methods of the latest study to identify genes that lead to hair growth in hopes of silencing them.

"We are beginning to understand which genes control hair growth in other plants, and the resources created in our study will allow us to look for similar genes in Cannabis sativa," said Marks.

"Cannabis genetics can contribute to better agriculture, medicine, and drug enforcement," said George Weiblen, an associate professor of plant biology and a co-author of the study.

As with Dobermans and Dachshunds, marijuana and hemp are different breeds of the same species (Cannabis sativa), but marijuana contains much more THC than hemp, which is a source of industrial fiber and nutritious oil.

Hemp was raised for its fiber which is similar to cotton but more durable in the United States until legislation outlawed all Cannabis plants because they contain THC. Today, marijuana contains as much as 25 percent THC, whereas hemp plants contain less than 0.3 percent.

Hemp was once a popular crop in the upper Midwest because it tolerates a cool climate and marginal soils that won't support other crops but, after drug legislation, hemp fiber was replaced by plastic and other alternatives. Recent popular demand for hemp products has led some states to consider the economic and environmental benefits of hemp. North Dakota legislation aims to reintroduce it as a crop, and Minnesota is considering similar legislation. At the same time, California and other states permit the medicinal use of marijuana.

"I can't think of a plant so regarded as a menace by some and a miracle by others," says Weiblen, who is one of the few researchers in the United States permitted to study Cannabis genetics. In 2006, Weiblen and colleagues developed a DNA "fingerprinting" technique capable of distinguishing among Cannabis plants in criminal investigations.


'/>"/>

Contact: Patty Mattern
mattern@umn.edu
612-624-2801
University of Minnesota
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Our brains make their own marijuana: Were all pot heads deep inside
2. Dartmouth researchers get personal with genetics
3. Ecosystem researchers to hold science briefing for policymakers
4. UAB researchers looking for genetic predictors for suicide
5. Rice researchers seek better vaccine procedure
6. Researchers find first evidence of virus in malignant prostate cells
7. Diabetes advance: Researchers find gene that causes resistance to insulin
8. Researchers find 2 more genetic risk factors for Alzheimers disease
9. Researchers restore missing protein in rare genetic brain disorder
10. Mayo Clinic researchers find that protein believed to protect against cancer has a Mr. Hyde side
11. Species diversity helps ASU researchers refine analyses of human gene mutations
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/3/2016)...  Neurotechnology, a provider of high-precision biometric identification ... Identification System (ABIS) , a complete system for ... can process multiple complex biometric transactions with high ... face or iris biometrics. It leverages the core ... MegaMatcher Accelerator , which have been used in ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... India , April 28, 2016 ... Infosys (NYSE: INFY ), and Samsung SDS, a ... that will provide end customers with a more secure, ... services.      (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130122/589162 ) , ... services, but it also plays a fundamental part in enabling ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... April 28, 2016 First quarter 2016:   ... 966% compared with the first quarter of 2015 The ... 589.1 M (loss: 18.8) and the operating margin was 40% (-13) ... Cash flow from operations was SEK 249.9 M (21.2) ... guidance is unchanged, SEK 7,000-8,500 M. The operating margin ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/5/2016)... CA (PRWEB) , ... May 05, 2016 , ... ... closed on a definitive agreement to acquire Algynomics, a research-stage pain diagnostics company. ... data to identify individuals at increased risk for the development of chronic pain, ...
(Date:5/5/2016)... ... 2016 , ... American Process, Inc. (API) announced that the ... 9,322,133 and 9,322,134, to API and its affiliated companies for BioPlus® nanocellulose technology. ... compositions. In addition to these patents and U.S. Patent No. 9,187,865 awarded ...
(Date:5/5/2016)... 2016  Why are two uber-successful former agency presidents ... launching a new venture—yet going about things in ... truly helping clients raise the value of their offerings ... different type of collaboration. The result is ... and medical device sectors. Elevate specializes in shaping and ...
(Date:5/5/2016)... ... May 05, 2016 , ... ProMIS Neurosciences ... its first three targets, it has identified a fourth in a series of ... the development and progression of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). , “This discovery ...
Breaking Biology Technology: