By exploring cannabis’ evolutionary history, scientists may significantly enhance the plant’s medicinal and recreational future. University of Toronto scientists published first data from their highly anticipated cannabis genome map in the Nov. 8 issue of peer-reviewed journal Genome Research. The article, “A physical and genetic map of Cannabis sativa identifies extensive rearrangement at the THC/CBD acid synthase locus,” reveals that cannabinoids like THC and CBD were created when cannabis’ genome was colonized by ancient viruses, leading hemp to evolve psychoactive chemicals and become marijuana. In addition to this viral chromosomal gene arrangement, the genome map also offers insights into strain potency determination and identified the gene responsible for the lesser-known cannabinoid cannabichromene (CBC).
In conversation with Phys.org, study co-leader Tim Hughes of the Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research said, “The chromosome