We are excited to be working with some great people on some meaningful projects, here are a few of the collaborations we had going on in 2020.
Pat Hayes, Oregon State University
We are working with Pat’s lab on tissue culture experiments to induce haploid cannabis varieties and to test the efficacy of different TC mediums for specific genotypes. Postdoc Danielle Caruso is conducting the experiments on haploid lines. While it may not be possible in cannabis, identifying a system that allows us to reduce the number of genomes from 2 to 1 would create the opportunity to make true-breeding, inbred lines in a single generation. The resulting haploids could then be doubled (in the same way that tetraploids are created from diploids), but both genomes would be identical. This technique has been successfully used in other crops (including corn), but has not been reported in cannabis to date. Graduate student Margaret Halstead is conducting the tissue culture medium experiments.
Kelly Vining, Oregon State University
Kelly has been collaborating with us on various projects since 2017 and is our outside bioinformatics guru. Her postdoc, Brian Knaus, is helping us to make sense of our large collection of whole genome sequences. She recently welcomed two additional master’s students to her lab. Adigun McLeod (jointly advised by Ryan Contreras) will be testing different ploidy transformation approaches (i.e. diploid --> tetraploid) and identifying if genetic re-arrangement coincides with those treatments. Paul Skillin will be analyzing transcriptome data (i.e. which genes are being expressed in which tissue at varying time points in a plant’s development), targeting cannabinoid/olfactory expression and disease resistance.
Larry and Chris Smart, Cornell University
We are in the nascent phase of establishing a research program with Cornell; Larry overseas hemp breeding efforts, while Chris studies plant pathogens and disease. Our first collaboration involves sequencing a novel hemp variety and a particular isolate of powdery mildew that caused hemp farmers significant losses in 2020. We hope to expand the scope of our relationship with greater specificity this fall, as Cornell is the premier east coast land grant university and directly connected to many of our farmers in the region.
John Munafo, University of Tennessee
John is the former VP of flavor research at Mars; after 15 years of corporate research, he “took an early retirement” to continue his groundbreaking work on the olfactory components of plants at the University of Tennessee. John has spent the past two years characterizing compounds responsible for odor in cannabis. The early results are really exciting. While our industry is still focused on terpenes as the primary drivers of smell, his initial findings are that they are about 1/2 of what we sense when squeezing our favorite oily flowers. Similarly, the relative proportion of each terpene by weight (what you see on the label of dispensary flowers) have little bearing on the final profile, as many of the most prevalent terpenes (myrcene) are not powerful oderants relative to others (linalool). Our first contribution to this collaborative project is to grow out unseeded flower of our Suver Haze in diploid and tetraploid form at Hilltop; the final flower will be dried as if it were destined for the trimmed flower market and shipped to his lab at UT for olfactory-sensory analysis. We hope to use data generated from this and future projects to identify candidate genes/markers responsible for these previously unknown compounds.
Global Hemp Innovation Center, Oregon State University
We provided around seeds to the GHIC this spring for USDA-sponsored variety trials of “essential oil hemp”. Assistant director of the GHIC, Jeffrey Steiner, reports:
“Auto CBG and White were used in the Western Water Use trials as well as the National EOH trials, with Lifter also used in the National EOH trials. In total, two auto-flower and two full-season varieties were use in the water trials (four varieties in total), with the same varieties used in the National EOH trials, plus two more full-season for a total of six varieties.
The water trials are being conducted at Klamath Falls, Hermiston, and Ontario, Oregon, and Davis and Five Points, California. The National EOH trials were also planted at Davis and Five Points, as well as at Ontario and Central Point. The other cooperators on the EOH trials are: Montana State, Colorado State Pueblo, University of Wisconsin, University of Vermont, Cornell University, Virginia Tech, Virginia State, University of Tennessee, West Virginia University, Alabama A&M, and Louisiana State. We will still have winter plantings in December at Texas A&M in southern Texas and the
Imperial Valley, CA.
The standard crop development measures (you reviewed these at the beginning of the trials) have been further refined and are being used, and we have been testing Cloud-based data collection and Block Chain data collection tools at some of the locations. We have widely introduced a standardized inflorescence maturity evaluation system based on capitated trichome secretion color and judging how well this aligns with cannabinoid concentrations and uniformity across varieties.”