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Research shows hemp-derived cannabinoids could serve as basis for natural pesticides

Natural pesticide

Hemp cannabinoids could be the source of new pesticides

A new study by researchers at Cornell University has found that cannabinoids could one day be used as natural pesticides. Recent research into the potential uses of hemp shows that cannabinoids produced by the plant could one day be the source of new natural pesticides, according to researchers at Cornell University in New York. The study led by scientists from the School of Integrative Plant Science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) at Cornell AgriTech found that a higher concentration of cannabinoids in the leaves of hemp plants caused less damage to insects grinders than leaves less rich in cannabinoids.

The researchers hope that further studies can build on these results to produce new natural insecticides, most likely intended for use only on inedible plants. The possibility of using the new pesticides on food crops seems unlikely at this stage due to the pharmacological effects of cannabinoids, including CBDA, THCA and GBGA, which can be converted to CBD, THC and CBG, respectively, under the effect of heat in a process known as decarboxylation.

Larry Smart, a plant breeder and professor at CALS, says researchers have studied the intoxicating and medicinal effects of cannabinoids, which are produced almost exclusively by cannabis plants, since these compounds were first identified years ago. several decades old. But little research has been done to determine exactly why cannabis plants first evolved more than 100 distinct substances.

“These were assumed to be defensive compounds, because they accumulate primarily in female flowers to protect seeds, which is a fairly common concept in plants,” said author Smart. principal of the study, according to a report by Hemp today.

Defensive compounds

Since scientists identified cannabinoids, research has focused on their medicinal and intoxicating effects, but it has never been known why these plants evolved cannabinoids. Researchers hypothesize that cannabinoids may protect plants from ultraviolet rays, pathogens and herbivores.

“These were assumed to be defensive compounds because they accumulate primarily in female flowers to protect seeds, which is a fairly common concept in plants,” says Smart, lead author of the study. The study, which was published last month in the journal Horticulture Research.

But no one has put together a comprehensive set of experimental results to show a direct relationship between the accumulation of these cannabinoids and their harmful effects on insects, said Smart, who is the lead author of the study titled “Cannabinoids Function in Defense Against Chewing Herbivores in Cannabis Sativa L.”, published on October 13 in the journal Horticultural Research.

This study allows us to understand how cannabinoids function in natural systems and may help us develop new THC-compatible hemp cultivars that maintain these built-in natural defenses against herbivores,” said George Stack, a postdoctoral researcher in the lab. by M. Smart and first author of the article.

Fight insects

Cornell's hemp breeding program began in 2017 by evaluating different commercially available hemp cultivars to determine which were best suited to the local climate, soils, and environment, so that recommendations can be formulated for farmers. Smart, Stack and their colleagues noticed that strains from a breeding program in Ukraine were all highly susceptible to Japanese beetles because they did not produce cannabinoids. Other varieties were not as sensitive.

“In the absence of cannabinoids, we saw significant insect damage, whereas in the presence of cannabinoids, the damage was much less,” says Smart.

In controlled laboratory studies, researchers isolated CBDA and CBGA and painted the extracts onto an artificial insect diet at different concentrations. According to the article, larvae developed less and had lower survival rates as cannabinoid concentration increased.

Cornell's program cannot work with plants high in THCA (the intoxicating compound found in marijuana) due to federal restrictions, and THCA as a pesticide has therefore not been tested in part of this research, Smart said.

“But no one has assembled a comprehensive set of experimental results to show a direct relationship between the accumulation of these cannabinoids and their harmful effects on insects,” Smart continued.
Cornell's hemp breeding program launched in 2017

The research was conducted as part of the Cornell Hemp Breeding Program, launched in 2017 by the Ivy League university in upstate New York. The program began its work by evaluating different commercially available hemp cultivars so that recommendations could be made to farmers on which varieties were best suited to the local soil and climate.

Researchers noticed that hemp varieties from a breeding program in Ukraine that did not produce cannabinoids were all very susceptible to damage from Japanese beetles. Other cannabinoid-producing hemp varieties were not as susceptible to insect damage.

Researchers then isolated CBDA and CBGA for use in controlled insect feeding studies. THCA was not studied in research because strict federal limits on THC in hemp crops prevent Cornell researchers from working with the compound.

Cannabinoid extracts were added to an artificial insect diet at varying concentrations. The researchers found that insect larvae grew less and had lower survival rates as the concentration of cannabinoids increased.

The potential use of cannabinoids as pesticides is an exciting area for future research, but there will certainly be regulatory hurdles due to the pharmacological activity of the compounds, and additional studies are needed to understand which pests cannabinoids are used against. will be effective, Mr. Stack said.

Tags : Therapeutic CannabinoidsMedical Research
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