The Cannabis Plant as a Complex System: Interrelationships between Cannabinoid Compositions, Morphological, Physiological and Phenological Traits

Maintaining specific and reproducible cannabinoid compositions (type and quantity) is essential for the production of cannabis-based remedies that are therapeutically effective. The current study investigates factors that determine the plant’s cannabinoid profile and examines interrelationships between plant features (growth rate, phenology and biomass), inflorescence morphology (size, shape and distribution) and cannabinoid content. An examination of differences in cannabinoid profile within genotypes revealed that across the cultivation facility, cannabinoids’ qualitative traits (ratios between cannabinoid quantities) remain fairly stable, while quantitative traits (the absolute amount of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), cannabichromene (CBC), cannabigerol (CBG), Δ9-tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) and cannabidivarin (CBDV)) can significantly vary. The calculated broad-sense heritability values imply that cannabinoid composition will have a strong response to selection in comparison to the morphological and phenological traits of the plant and its inflorescences. Moreover, it is proposed that selection in favour of a vigorous growth rate, high-stature plants and wide inflorescences is expected to increase overall cannabinoid production. Finally, a range of physiological and phenological features was utilised for generating a successful model for the prediction of cannabinoid production. The holistic approach presented in the current study provides a better understanding of the interaction between the key features of the cannabis plant and facilitates the production of advanced plant-based medicinal substances.


Keywords:

attribute associations; breeding; medicinal cannabis; plant productivity; reproducibility.

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