The University of Colorado at Boulder was recently recognized as a leader in industrial hemp research. University scientists are working on developing a genetic map for cannabis. The map would allow researchers to understand which plants should be crossed to obtain desired characteristics in the offspring and would unlock answers to many of the questions researchers have been searching for.
Although Dr. Nolan Kane’s lab at the University of Colorado Boulder has been funded through gifts and donations, they need to raise $75,000 to analyze the plants that will be used to develop the genetic map of cannabis. This map would tell us which regions of the genome are responsible for the production of THC, CBD and other cannabinoids, and terpenoids.
What would the development of a genetic map do?
A genetic map and other genomic tools developed by Kane and his group will enable researchers to understand which traits are inherited through each strain. This would improve the ability to develop strains specifically targeted to the treatment of certain illnesses.
Dr. Kane, an evolutionary biologist who specializes in genomics, is a pioneer in the genomic study of cannabis. Kane advises five graduate students in the lab, as well as many undergrads. Dr. Daniela Vergara is the only post-doctorate researcher working with Kane. Dr. Vergara, also an evolutionary biologist, is in charge of some of the projects that the undergrads are focused on in addition to several genomic projects on Cannabis that are particularly related to sex determination.
The research conducted by Kane and his lab has the potential to change world. If we are able to understand the science of cannabis and the importance of individual traits, we can develop specific products from it. Geneticists would be able to develop unique, specific strains that could treat conditions such as epilepsy, pain, or PTSD. Many industrial products can also be extracted from hemp:
- Paper products: Hemp’s fiber can be used to make paper that is environmentally friendly, naturally acid free, and can be recycled up to 7 times.
- Clothing: Hemp can be used to make clothing. One acre of hemp produces as much material as 2-3 acres of cotton.
- Building materials: Hemp can be turned into a variety of building materials (i.e. fiber board, carpet, stucco, cement blocks, insulation, and plastic). You can build a wall out of hemp that is fire resistant, rot, pest and, mold free and will last 500 years.
- Biofuel: Hemp can be turned into fuel that can be used in your car or lawn mower today.
- Nutrition: Hemp can be used as a supplement for nutrition. It is high in protein and contains essential omega 3 & 6 fatty acids, potassium, and dietary fiber.
Kane’s research is focused on the entire genome
Although Canadian researchers sequenced the first cannabis genomes from three different strains (which are publicly available at NCBI’s gene bank) in 2011, research pertaining to the ecology, evolutionary biology and genomics of cannabis is scarce. Some university research groups in Canada and the Netherlands have focused on understanding small portions of the Cannabis genome.
Dr. Kane’s research is focused on understanding the entire cannabis genome and the biology of cannabis. This makes the research being conducted by his team unique. Although there are a number of private companies involved in investigating the cannabis genome, the University of Colorado at Boulder is the only academic institution with such a focus.
Imagine if you were able to know which plants could be combined to create a medicine that effectively treats Parkinson’s disease or glaucoma. It would be amazing. That is what Dr. Kane and his team are trying to accomplish and it could change the world. The laboratory needs to raise $75,000 to achieve their research efforts.
Please share this story to help raise money for a great cause! Technical420 wants to thank Dr. Daniela Vergara for providing us with great information related to the efforts going on at the University of Colorado at Boulder.