Medicinal Genomics, a private company headquartered in Marblehead, Massachuetts, USA and the Netherlands, sequenced the entire genomes of Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica, two strains of the therapeutic plant. These largest known Cannabis genome assemblies comprise over 131 billion bases of sequence and will advance research on the therapeutic benefits of Cannabis for a wide range of health conditions, including cancer and inflammatory diseases.
This sequencing project discovered surprising genomic variation between Cannabis strains. The over 1% variation is 10 times that of human genomes. Using the GS FLX+ System’s long read technology, the researchers obtained 18-fold genome coverage using 700-800 base pair reads for a high-quality draft assembly of the complex plant genome.
With the Cannabis genomes in hand, researchers can now begin to identify non-psychoactive compounds and enzyme pathways to better elucidate the therapeutic benefits of Cannabis, including the plant’s anti-cancer properties. These pathways can be optimized in the plant and cloned into other hosts for more efficient biologic production. It may also be possible, using genome-directed breeding, to attenuate the psychoactive effects of Cannabis, and simultaneously enhance the medicinal effects.
For life science research only. Not for use in diagnostic procedures.
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