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Scientists identify genetic origins of cannabis

Scientists identify genetic origins of cannabis

Recently published research in the journal Science Advances by scientists who used genetics to track the origins of Cannabis sativa finally answers long held questions about the birthplace of the popular illicit and euphoric herb.

Their findings reveal much on the evolution of cannabis as it mutated over hundreds of thousands of years. The study also suggests that modern cultivation of cannabis may have wiped out pure, wild strains of the plant with the hybrids we see in stores and on the black market today.

Cannabis is one of the first cultivated plant species, according to Luca Fumagalli, who co-authored the study with the University of Lausanne’s Laboratory for Conservation Biology.

110 genomes of Cannabis sativa were analyzed by employing molecular analysis and hat Fumagalli termed “next generation sequencing.” The results identified four genetically recognizable categories of cannabis.

One is Basil Cannabis, which includes wild cannabis and traditional hybrids like those found in modern China, and is genetically connected to all cannabis cultivated by humans, whether intoxicating cannabis or non-psychoactive hemp.

Speaking of Hemp, which is mostly grown for its fiber, it is the second category, including all hemp varieties produced worldwide.

The third category is the first group of intoxicating cannabis including wild strains as found in India, Pakistan, and China.

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The fourth category is the second group of intoxicating cannabis including globally grown varieties.

The researches state that breeding by black market growers has increased “the difficulties for reconstructing the species’ domestic history” and that “few crops have been under the spotlight of controversy as much as Cannabis sativa,” reports

A peer-reviewed multidisciplinary open-access scientific journal, Science Advances was established in 2015 and is a publication of the American Association of Advancement Science.