Genetic Differences Between Hemp and Marijuana


MSI PIs George Weiblen and M. David Marks, both professors in the Department of Plant Biology, have published research that identifies a gene that distinguishes hemp from marijuana. This research could have implications for future industrial uses of hemp. Currently, legal restrictions affect both the growing of hemp and marijuana. Identifying how the two Cannabis varieties differ could result in fewer restrictions for hemp, which has valuable fibers and nutritious seeds.

Professor Weiblen is also curator of plants at the Bell Museum of Natural History. He uses MSI resources for genetic linkage mapping and quantitative trait locus mapping for cannabinoid content as well as phylogenetic analysis of cannabinoid synthase sequences and gene expression patterns. Professor Marks uses MSI for plant genome assembly and annotation.

The paper can be found on the New Phytologist website: G.D. Weiblen, J.P. Wenger, K.J. Craft, M.A. ElSohly, Z. Mehmedic, E.L. Treiber, and M.D. Marks. 2015. Gene duplication and divergence affecting drug content in Cannabis sativa. New Phytologist. DOI: 10.1111/nph.13562

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