UBC researchers identify genes that give weed its flavour

Mar 31 2017, 12:16 am

Might there be a Merlot of Marijuana? Perhaps a Pinot Noir of Pot?

It’s certainly possible, according to researchers at UBC, who say they have found the genes responsible for giving weed its ‘flavour.’

Now, with legalization on the horizon, they hope that information can be used to market the drug in a way similar to wine.

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“The goal is to develop well-defined and highly-reproducible cannabis varieties,” said UBC professor Jörg Bohlmann in a release. “This is similar to the wine industry, which depends on defined varieties such as chardonnay or merlot for high value products.”

The genomics work can “inform breeders of commercial varieties which genes to pay attention to for specific flavour qualities,” Bohlmann added.

The research is part of an ongoing collaboration between Bohlmann, graduate student Judith Booth, and Jonathan Page, an adjunct professor in the botany department who founded Anandia Labs.

In total, the researchers found about 30 genes that give cannabis a range of different flavours. That amount is similar to the number of genes that play a role in grapevine flavour for the wine industry.

The economic potential of a regulated cannabis industry is huge, Bohlmann said.

But the fact growers are working with a crop that is not well standardized and highly variable for its key natural product profiles is a current challenge, he added. “There is a need for high-quality and consistent products made from well defined varieties.”

Eric ZimmerEric Zimmer

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