The cannabis that you smoke today is likely descended from cannabis ancestors that form the bedrock of the cannabis breeding pool since ancient times. The varieties referenced are not strains, but rather the entire groups cannabis strains came from.
Plants of the Cannabis genus are the only prolific producers of phytocannabinoids, compounds that strongly interact with the evolutionarily ancient Endocannabinoid Receptors. Cannabis has been cultivated not only for these compounds, but also for Material. Today, specialized varieties yielding high-quality textile fibers, nutritional seed oil, or high cannabinoid content are cultivated across the globe. However, the genetic identities and histories of these diverse populations remain largely obscured.
The cannabis species originated and was originally domesticated in Central Asia. The origin story and family tree has been often debated. However, botany leaders aim to bring some clarification to help save the ancestor of all modern cannabis.
The study of evolutionary relationships between groups of organisms,
We have some basis for classifying plants according to their genetic similarities and trace ancestry.
Relies on the presence of a single common ancestor. In this way, every clade (branch) of the phylogenetic tree contains the descendants of a single common ancestor. When many plants share a common ancestor, they are said to be monophyletic.
Cannabaceae includes roughly 170 species from 10 genera: Cannabis (hemp and marijuana), Humulus (hops), and eight genera that were formerly in the Celtidaceae (hackberry) family. Prior to the 21st century, the Cannabaceae family was only thought to include the Cannabis and Humulus genera. It wasn’t until recently that researchers merged Celtidaceae and Cannabaceae based on genetic evidence.
One distinctive feature of the Cannabis genus is the production of a large diversity of compounds called Cannabinoids, they are so named because they are not produced in high levels in any other plant species
Additionally, the third subspecies of cannabis is cannabis sativa subsp ruderalis. Ruderalis is a wild variety that has low THC contents and is autoflowering or day neutral.
All modern cannabis plants are of the family and species cannabis sativa. For many in the cannabis industry Indica and Sativa have been the bedrock of how people communicate the morphology and subjective effects of the plant. However, science has begun to classify by chemovar. The terpene and cannabinoid profile in the plant is a better indicator of effect than the shape of the plant. The synergistic combination of compounds contributes to the Entourage Effect also known as the ensemble effect.
The biggest threats to these landrace cannabis varieties come from humanity. In the search for the best plants for effect, yield, resistance to disease and other characteristics humans have interbred these landraces. Thousands of years of widespread domestication resulted in unaltered wild cannabis plants disappearing. The cannabis plants that humans breed around the world have been heavily cross-bred and selected for certain traits, resulting in a complicated mixture of genes.
Genetic advances allow us to better select favorable traits. In doing so endemic species are often impacted through reduction in seeds for reproduction taken by humans for breeding or cultivation. Selective cultivation often leads to artificial selection for traits rather than reproductive fitness or genetic diversity. Overtime, these varieties escape domestication and go feral, altering the gene pool of the native plants.
The cannabis today is far different than cannabis smoked in history. The importance of Cataloging the cannabis genotype and terpene profiles is vital to help future generations experience today’s cannabis and retrace back to preferred strains.
The cannabis industry and world at large will hopefully share the responsibility to preserve the biodiversity of the cannabis species. This will include protecting the habitat, reducing feral cannabis populations and the harvest, export and import of wild or native cannabis plants or seeds to to recreate them locally through recombination.
Additionally analyzing strains for genotypes, aromatic profiles and other traits will allow us to recreate variations if necessary.
By updating a genetic database and replicating the aromatic profile of cannabis varieties using analytical testing and utilizing terpenes sourced from other plants: Linalool from lavender, Myrcene from lemon balm or Limonene from oranges. We can trace steps to insure the plant’s future survival.