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What is cannabis polyploidy: the future of genetic selection

According to some studies, seeds of polyploid cannabis might be the next huge development in the field of hemp cultivation. Lately, this natural genetic mutation of marijuana has been getting more and more attention from scientists, and some experts in the field think that it’s going to be a burning issue in the field of genetic improvement of cannabis plants. Think about how much has changed in the world of marijuana strains in the last few decades: at first there only were normal cannabis seeds which could yield male or female plants, then growers started to select feminized seeds to produce plants with more profitable flowers, which are today’s farming standard. After a while auto flowering seeds came along to facilitate both indoor and outdoor growing at different latitudes. At the same time, researchers developed products rich in CBD with low percentages of THC in order to obtain flowers which could respect the maximum limits of tetrahydrocannabinol established by the law, and offer a high percentage of cannabinol as well. Some may not like it but this is the world of cannabis: an endless attempt to achieve the perfect strain, not with the creation of GMO plants, but through a more and more attentive selection of different cannabis strains to reach one’s production goals. Nowadays the focus is on polyploid cannabis which seems to have a great potential. This is a kind of cannabis already existing in nature which has a different set of chromosomes resulting from a natural mutation, and which can yield generous harvests as well as having strong effects.

What does polyploidy mean?

Polyploidy is a chromosomal mutation, in this particular case in the plant’s chromosomes. Chromosomes are made of DNA and they contain the entire genetic material of an organism, both animal and vegetal. For example, human beings inherit 23 chromosomes from both parents, which are further divided into 23 pairs. These chromosomic sets are formed by diploid pairs, and the same happens with cannabis’ chromosome set. However, when a set contains three or more chromosomes it will result in a triploid or polyploid organism. So, the chromosomic sets of polyploid cannabis are composed by 3 or even more chromosomes instead of the standard two chromosomes, which are normally inherited from both the father and the mother.

Features of polyploid cannabis

Why is polyploid cannabis genetically better? There seem to be some differences between non-diploid chromosomic sets and the ones of standard female plants: the plants grow faster and they yield flowers of bigger dimensions and with a higher percentage of terpenes and cannabinoids. However we’d like to remind you that these are not genetically modified seeds: polyploid cannabis is not a GMO! Polyploidy is a natural phenomenon which is incentivised through genetic selection. This phenomenon is in fact already known and used in agriculture. Just to give an example: this prolific genetic mutation has been used to harvest wheat for years now.

Scientific research on polyploid cannabis seeds

This genetic selection is not a fact yet but it has all the requirements to become one soon. This kind of product will need many years of research in order to be created, tested and improved but the result might be a real revolution in the agricultural field, just as feminized seeds have already been. For the moment being, research has shown that plants of polyploid cannabis are very productive, resistant and strong but the right genetic set to get the best results has not been discovered yet, especially concerning the amount of terpenes and cannabinoids. A study shows that the percentage of cannabinoids in triploid plants might be even smaller than the one of diploid plants, while polyploid plants seem to give excellent results. A lot of important companies, especially in Canada and in the US, are trying to develop a stable and highly yielding polyploid cannabis strain. Also, even some companies in Israel seem to have good chances of getting a result soon. We would like to end this article by saying that if this kind of strain spread all over the world there might be profits for many people in the field of cannabis cultivation, for both big companies and singular growers. On the other hand, if this revolutionary strain was available just for small powerful groups, it would result in an even more competitive market with great power imbalance which would completely keep out of the market lots of producers.

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