The Origins of Cannabinoids
Recent studies show that the origin of cannabinoids might have something to do with an ancient virus that stimulated the growth of THC and CBD. This conclusion was reached thanks to a group of international investigators after finishing the first ever complete cannabis genome, allowing us to see the origins of cannabinoids.
Investigators expect that this map will accelerate genetic improvement in order to create new strains that can give more specific medicinal effects and absolutely no psychoactive effects. They’re sure that one day they’ll be able to create strains that can be grown sustainably that are immune to illnesses and pest infestations.
This discovery, first published by Genome Research, also contains the discovery of the gene that produces CBC (cannabicromeno), a lesser-known cannabinoid that, according to investigators, contains anti-inflammatory properties.
Experts claim that hemp and cannabis, from the Cannabis Sativa family, evolved as two different plants with different chemical compositions. This is why cannabis plants offer an intense psychoactive effect whereas hemp plants are known for their non-psychoactive CBD content, which is used for medicinal purposes.
The study comes to us from a collaboration between Tim Hughes and Jonathan Page’s teams at Aurora Cannabis and the University of British Colombia, as well as Harm van Bakel from the Ichan School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
“The chromosome map is an important foundational resource for further research which, despite cannabis’ widespread use, has lagged begins other crops due to restrictive legislation” says Tim Hughes, an investigator from the University of Toronto.
They sequenced the entire genome through 10 chromosomes from a plant that was obtained from crossing a Purple Kush strain and a hemp strain called Finola. The results revealed that the genes in charge of creating THC and CBD are surrounded by DNA associated with a viral infection across various generations of Cannabis Sativa. This caused the DNA to mutate and clone itself throughout the entire gene line.
Investigators believe that this gene cloning created the split in cannabis sativa to hemp and weed, and us humans later decided to choose to consume the one with the most attractive chemical balance – high levels of THC.
Scientists have also identified the genes responsible for the creation of the cannabinoid cannabicromeno (CBC). This discovery will allow future breeders to create strains rich in CBC, which is intensely medicinal and can be used to treat various illnesses thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. Experts assure the public that they have taken so long to develop the genome map due to cannabis prohibitions and lack of investigation.
Jonathan Page, co-author to the study, states that general science has not done enough due to restrictions imposed by law. Legalization and regulation have recently opened the doors to many new investigative possibilities, and Canada is currently leading the investigation.
It seems like the future is quite promising for our favorite plant, opening doors to new studies and investigations, as well as new cannabis regulations around the world. New strains are being created every day, both for recreational purposes as well as for medicinal ones – a true revolution in the medicinal world, helping patients with illnesses such as Alzheimer’s or epilepsy.