What is the difference between “wild” psychoactive cannabis and “domestic” psychoactive cannabis?

genome resequencing

Researchers have found that there are 4 different species of cannabis and all of them originate from China

In a new comprehensive genetic study published last week in the journal Science Advances, an advanced genetic analysis of hundreds of strains of cannabis from different parts of the world has been conducted to find out where and when the plant was first domesticated, and how many species, or distinctly distinct species, exist.

Large-scale whole-genome re-sequencing unveils history of domestication of Cannabis sativa

Few cultures have been the subject of more controversy than the Cannabis sativa L. As one of the first domesticated plants, it has a long and fluctuating history intertwined with the economic, social and cultural development of human societies. Once a major source of textiles, food, and oilseeds such as hemp, its exploitation declined in the late 20th century, while its use as a recreational herb has broadened to the present day.

Despite its ancient use dating back thousands of years, the genomic history of the domestication of cannabis has been under-studied relative to other important crop species, largely due to legal restrictions. Recent genomic studies applying sequencing genotyping on mostly western commercial cultivars have shown a marked genome-wide differentiation between hemp and other types of drugs.

Demographic history

According to the study, cannabis was first domesticated in the East Asian region around 12000 years ago, along with other plants such as rice, soybeans, apricots. and peaches, which were also domesticated for the first time in this region.

How were they created from what is called 'nuclear cannabis', what is the difference between them and 'hemp' cannabis and where it all happened for the first time.

This is a slightly different conclusion from the prevailing opinion among botanical experts today, that the plant was first domesticated in the Central Asian region. But, as the researchers point out, this finding is actually consistent with previous archaeological findings published about two years ago that also identified the region of East Asia, present-day China, as the first source of the plant of cannabis.

In this study, the researchers also point to the alleged point in history when they claim that the original cannabis plant "split", through intensive selective hybridization by humans, into two different genetically distinct species. , one which has been improved to produce fiber, and the other which has been enhanced to produce THC.

The division of cannabis into different species is a controversial issue. Although the cash division sativa, indica and Ruderalis has been prevalent and accepted by cannabis consumers and producers for decades, it is not accepted in the scientific world. Numerous genetic studies conducted in recent years have determined that there is no genetic basis for dividing the different strains of cannabis into these three super categories.

Instead, studies have revealed that there are two genetically distinct species of cannabis, cannabis (hemp), which is referred to in the scientific literature as "Fiber-like cannabis", and psychoactive cannabis, which is referred to in the literature. scientist "Drug-type cannabis".

The reason for the formation of these two genetically distinct species is of course that one of them has been improved by humans for thousands of years to produce fiber, and the other, similarly, to produce cannabinoids

But now it seems the picture is more complex. In the new study, the researchers' comprehensive genetic analysis led them to the conclusion that there are not just 2, but in fact 4 genetically distinct species of cannabis.

Basal Cannabis

The original “wild” cannabis. According to the study, "nuclear" cannabis originated in present-day East Asia, China, where it was first domesticated by humans around 12 years ago, making it one of the first domesticated plants in human history. This is the first study to indicate the existence of this ancient cannabis species from which all other species were domesticated, a fact the study authors called "particularly surprising." Cannabis plants of the "nuclear" species can also be found in modern-day China, but researchers point out that these are probably not completely "wild" plants as they are likely already extinct. but domesticated plants which “escape” at the right time (for example the wind which carries the seeds with them at a distance). This “nuclear” cannabis was used in the past for dual purposes: both fiber production and cannabinoid production, and it originally contained a relatively low concentration of both. About 000 years ago, humans began propagating the "nuclear" cannabis plant for a specific purpose - either for fiber or cannabinoid production, and over the years two new species of Genetically distinct cannabis plants have been created by repeated selective hybridization – one that produces much more fiber (hemp), and one that produces much more THC (psychoactive cannabis)

nuclear cannabis
The cannabis plant is divided into 4 unique species which are genetically distinct from each other. The so-called "nuclear" cannabis is the common source of the other three species

Fiber-type cannabis

A type of cannabis that has been improved by humans from “nuclear” cannabis in order to produce more fiber. In fact, it can be said that the plant has been improved so that its DNA commands it to invest its energy in the production of fiber, to the detriment of the production of THC. Its production of CBD is not actually damaged, which is why it contains more CBD than THC.

Domesticated psychoactive cannabis of the “soft drug” type

Just like hemp cannabis, it is a type of cannabis that has been improved by humans to produce as much cannabinoidsb as possible, and more specifically - as much THC as possible. In fact, for decades THC was the only known cannabinoid, so most cannabis growers have focused solely on increasing THC levels. According to the researchers, when humans improved cannabis to produce more and more THC, the plant did so at the expense of producing other cannabinoids, such as CBD. Just as the DNA of cannabis hemp commands it to use its energy to produce more fiber at the expense of cannabinoid production, so the DNA of domesticated psychoactive cannabis actually commands it to use its energy to produce only THC at the expense of other cannabinoids. . According to researchers, this is the reason for the relatively low concentration of CBD in cannabis strains common today.

Wild psychoactive cannabis (type of wild drug)

Unlike domesticated psychoactive cannabis, wild psychoactive cannabis is a species that evolved on its own in nature, rather than through selective human hybridization. In fact, they are domesticated 'nuclear' cannabis plants that 'escape' into the wild at some point and have reached a new environment that requires them to adapt in order to survive. The way these plants protected themselves from the sun and various pests was by increasing their production of THC. The strains that belong to this species are referred to in the cannabis industry as Landraces or "heirloom strains," and cannabis companies strive to collect samples of these wild plants from remote corners of the world in order to use them to create new varieties of cannabis. The results of this study also provide an unprecedented base of genomic resources for molecular selection and ongoing functional research, both in medicine and agriculture.

Tags : DiscoveriesResearch and Scientific Advancement
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