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Sure you do. Try it out. Just this once....

One of the issues that arises in trying to discuss science on the intertubz is that there is a lack of understanding both of the underlying science and the awareness about the benefits of the science. I have tried in the past to bring some knowledge about plant science to DailyKos--including posts on ug99, celebrating a World Food Prize winner who is a plant geneticist, and trying to explain the importance of biotechnology and genebanks.

Sadly, though, some people are only interested in plant science if the word Monsanto is in the title. And then they are interested in plant science not happening.

So this time I thought I'd try something else. Something with broader appeal than the striga genetics or pathogens of wheat. I'm going to offer you pot.

No, really--I'm trying to offer you a gateway genome. And I'm sure if I ever run for office this will totally bite me in the butt. But I'm going to do it anyway. Maybe it will help people to understand a little bit about what we are looking at as we explore a genome.

Last fall a group of Canadian researchers published an open access paper on the Cannabis genome: The draft genome and transcriptome of Cannabis sativa. But in addition to this they also created a genome browser to go along with their data. A genome browser is the software that is used to organize the data--not only the A, T, G and C sequences that form the genome, but other types of data that we use to understand what's going on in that genome. We look at where genes are turned on or off, and we look at variations among strains or species, and more.

In this video there is a quick look at the Cannabis genome browser, and it highlights [cough] one of the aspects that appears to be important in this genome.

I've read a lot of plant genome papers (here's a nice list of many of them). But this one was probably the most fun. And the research benefits may include ways to produce useful medications, and also possibly ways to make hemp easier to grow. There may be strategies to ensure that the plant doesn't have any production of the compounds that run afoul of the legal constraints--so hemp could be more widely grown.

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You can have a look around at the genome yourself here: genome.ccbr.utoronto.ca.

One last thing--I couldn't resist this screen shot:
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Now, let's be sure to ignite all sorts of conspiracy theories around this in the comments! I am aware that some people think there are cannabis GMOs from Monsanto with terminator genes. This is a lie. There are no terminator genes or seeds of any farmed plant--despite what conspiracy theorists will tell you. There are also rumors of biohacked marijuana that is more potent. But there's no sequence data available on that, and most of us think that's probably just misunderstanding or mistranslation. But I'd be happy to examine any data on that...

Anyway--enjoy your look at a plant genome. For educational purposes only.

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with any aspect of Big Pot, nor Big Ag, nor George Soros, nor Bill Gates, nor the Rockefellers, nor the Illuminati, or any other CT you are going to suggest in the comments. Sorry to disappoint on that.

Also see some other good material on this work, from various sources:

Decoding Dope

U of S and U of T researchers team up to map the cannabis genome

Putting the high into high-throughput sequencing: the cannabis genome

How hemp got high

Originally posted to mem from somerville on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 05:12 PM PST.

Also republished by SciTech.

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