Victorian minister for agriculture Mary-Anne Thomas has congratulated scientists at Agriculture Victoria after advanced DNA analysis enabled them to unlock the genetic code of medicinal cannabis, creating the world’s most complete genomic reference.
The development paves the way for faster precision breeding of medicinal cannabis.
Victorian laboratories have been fitted with technology that can precisely measure and quantify cannabinoids, and used by scientists to quickly and accurately identify the cannabis varieties with the best medicinal properties. It aims to improve outcomes from plant breeding programs.
Understanding the genome of medicinal cannabis is important because it allows scientists to select the best traits to make the most effective health products.
Over the past four years, Agriculture Victoria researchers have used genomic DNA testing to create new tools which have made extracting genetic information from medicinal cannabis strains from around the world possible. This information was then put into a database.
Scientists can now link millions of DNA markers with traits such as growth rate, bud size and disease resistance, and quickly and cost-effectively test plants to meet compliance and regulatory requirements.
In 2018-19, Agriculture Victoria scientists sequenced 50 trillion bases of DNA. Advances in technology mean the same amount can today be done in just three weeks, which is equivalent to 60,000 cannabis genomes.
Thomas said: “Research into medicinal cannabis is a great example of how Victoria’s science and health sectors are working hand-in-hand for the benefit of our community, particularly those people who are suffering from chronic health conditions.”
“Victoria’s cultivation trial has not only made medicinal cannabis available to patients, but has also provided our world-leading scientists with important genetic information to design more effective products.”