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Secrets of Genetics

What is Genetics? Cannabis is a beautiful plant…

by John Peterson

Humans and Cannabis has been in the process of co-evolving for many thousands and thousands of years all across the world. Through this co-evolution cannabis has developed a variety of uses medically, nutritionally and industrially. The attributes that we prize are all controlled by the genetic information stored in the plant’s DNA.

The thickness of the stalks and stems, the size and width of the leaves{pic}, how large the bud gets and what aromatics are released and when, what angle is preferred when a new stem develops, how big the seeds get, and all other aspects of the plant are determined by how the genes interact with the environmental stimuli: light, nutrients, biological matrix, temperature, humidity and everything else, to grow into the mature plant we harvest for fiber, seed, oils and flowers.

Genes build and regulate protein production. Proteins acting together creates the plant tissues and structures. This process is called expression. DNA is messy, with sometimes multiple copies of a genes, some with small errors, some that are ancient relics buried in tightly knotted DNA. Not all of these genes are “turned-on” but are repressed. Some genes are repressed for certain periods of developments, some are repressed from the seed on, and some are repressed by the environment. The map of genes that actually express themselves is known as the epigenome.

Many of the plant’s decisions on which genes are expressed or repressed and when are determined by the conditions it grows in. Ideal conditions allow the plant to reach for its full genetic potential: efficiently converting sunlight, water and nutrients into leaves, stalks, flowers and seeds. Conditions that are more challenging for the plant can cause genes to turn on or off. Some of the changes to expression may help it survive in harsher conditions, and some won’t help the plant at all, but all of these changes subtract from the plant’s ability to provide us its bounty.

When the plant goes through any period of harsh conditions we put the plant through stress. Stressed plants will carry those changes through its life and potentially through any seeds from the plant. Therefore, limiting stress in the care of cannabis becomes a prime consideration, and the job of the horticulturalist is to ensure the plant has everything it needs to reach its full genetic potential.

The Green Greeks Magazine

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