A University of Connecticut researcher has received a grant to study the biology of cannabis in a bid to better understand how to increase cannabinoid production.

Gerald Berkowitz, a professor of plant sciences, will study the molecule and genetic mechanisms responsible for trichome development in the cannabis plant.

University of Connecticut professor of plant sciences Gerald Berkowitz

Cannabinoids like CBD are produced by trichomes, small ‘hairs’ on the plant barely visible to the human eye that turn from clear to brown as it ages. 

By understanding how the cannabis plant grows trichomes, it is hoped scientists will be able to increase cannabinoid production and meet the burgeoning demand for medicinal cannabis. 

Berkowitz will also investigate how promoters, parts of the DNA sequence that signal the start of a coded protein sequence to which transcription proteins bind, are regulated by plant hormones.

He hopes to advance understanding of the role hormones play in trichome development, as it has been found in other plants that hormones can initiate it.

This form of genetic detail will help scientists selectively and genetically engineer cannabis plants with superior genes for trichome production. 

Hannah Adler

Hannah is a communications professional and early-career researcher in the disciplines of health communication and health sociology. She is a PhD student at Griffith University currently writing a...