Marijuana’s Newest Revolution: Genome Mapping

The idea that we’re about to have a huge agricultural industry around a new plant – in a couple years it’s going to be the third largest crop in the United States – but no one’s doing the science for it? Is just crazy. With this mapping of the whole population that we’re doing and understanding the genetic pathways we can work with breeders to bring all those traits together and make beautiful amazing plants that that grow wonderfully, that have unexpected mysterious effects and that really bring out the potential of the plant. I moved back to Portland in 2013 and the cannabis industry was sort of exploding all around and it was pretty clear right away that no one was using any science for anything. So we started a science company. What Phylos is doing is something completely different they’re taking the genetic information and turning it into a genealogy. Turning it into a stud book for plants. Until recently the genomic methods weren’t accurate enough to take on this kind of of a system. Now they are. This is a customer-submitted sample of sour diesel i’m going to weigh out 50 milligrams of this. I’m transferring the sample to a tube that’s appropriate for processing it into a fine powder, and from here we’ll add the first chemicals and start the DNA extraction. People are obsessed with this plant. It’s hard to think of any other species that is going to make anyone care about genomic data but there’s just this huge community of people that for years have been going “what is sour diesel? Where to come from?” And caring about it. And now we can answer those questions and it matters to people. I’ve got DNA that’s been amplified and I’m going to size select it for the fragments that we need for sequencing. We want to preserve all the diversity that’s out there. It is insane how diverse the plant is. I mean humans domesticated it 10,000 years ago they brought it to every single corner of the planet and so we want to know how that happened and how it got diversified into all these different uses. What the DNA sequences can do is unravel that. It’s a really really cool biological puzzle. We want to make it so that people at least know genetically what plant they have. So right now people just – there’s all these stores and people are selling all this stuff and it has all these crazy names and a lot of those names are just made up. The Sour Diesel samples that you guys brought in – I think there were six of them – four of them were cuts of AJ’s Sour Diesel, I mean they were the real Sour Diesel. And then a couple of them just weren’t. The identification of the plants, of the different strains of plants is absolutely important for the future of the plant. We want to help breeders make crazy crazy amazing new pot. There’s all these amazing traits out there that we’ve only just begun to understand, and incredible flavors and then incredible agronomic traits and they’re all sort of out there. People don’t realize that the plant is about to be over-the-top interesting and it’s going to be very different than what we have now.


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