JUL 01, 2022 9:00 AM PDT

Firefly Genes Provide Insights into Cannabis Biology

WRITTEN BY: Kerry Charron

A team of University of Connecticut researchers are using firefly genes to understand molecular mechanisms involved in trichome development and cannabinoid synthesis. They discovered transcription factors trigger trichome initiation and cannabinoid biosynthesis and published the study in Plants. Transcription factors cause the cannabis flower’s epidermal cells to morph into trichomes, or small glandular hairs or papillae, that produce cannabinoids at later stages of plant maturation. The findings have implications for the genetic engineering of cannabis strains with desired therapeutic amounts of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids. 

The current UConn research project is funded by the National Research Initiative from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the support will allow the researchers to clone the part of DNA that transcription factors bind (called a promoter) and inject them into the cells of a model cannabis plant. In addition, a copy of the enzyme that causes firefly luciferase (a form of bioluminescence) will be added. If the promoter is activated by a signal, the luciferase reporter will generate light.

The researchers will introduce the cloned promoters and luciferase into a plasmid which are circular DNA molecules that can replicate independently of the chromosomes. This process enables the expression of specific genes despite not being part of the plant’s original genomic DNA. 

When the promoters and transcription factors responsible for trichome development interact, the light generated by this activity, researchers will use a luminometer to measure the light’s intensity. This data will indicate if the promoter regions are controlled by transcription factors responsible for increasing trichome development and how promoters respond to hormonal signals.

This technique may shed light on the most effective ways to grow cannabis strains with specific cannabinoid profiles. Hemp is a variety of cannabis with naturally lower THC levels than marijuana, and it contains the legally allowed amount of less than .3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The UConn team’s research suggests that cannabis can be cultivated using genome editing techniques such as CRISPR to produce low THC or THC free plants.

Sources: 

Plants, University of Connecticut 

 

About the Author
BA and MA in English, MPS in Human Relations, and Ed.D. in Higher Education Administration
Kerry Charron writes about medical cannabis research. She has experience working in a Florida cultivation center and has participated in advocacy efforts for medical cannabis.
You May Also Like
FEB 11, 2022
Cannabis Sciences
Cannabis-Derived Lignanamides: Potential Candidates for the Treatment of Multidrug-Resistant Cancers
FEB 11, 2022
Cannabis-Derived Lignanamides: Potential Candidates for the Treatment of Multidrug-Resistant Cancers
A key mechanism weaponized by cancer cells to evade chemotherapeutic treatments in patients with multidrug-resistant can ...
FEB 15, 2022
Health & Medicine
Gamechanger Treatment? NFL Launches Study of Cannabis and Pain Relief of Athletes
FEB 15, 2022
Gamechanger Treatment? NFL Launches Study of Cannabis and Pain Relief of Athletes
The National Football League (NFL) awarded $500,000 to University of California San Diego’s Center for Medicinal C ...
APR 09, 2022
Cannabis Sciences
Advances in Cannabis Sciences at the 2022 Labroots Virtual Event
APR 09, 2022
Advances in Cannabis Sciences at the 2022 Labroots Virtual Event
Labroots hosted its 5th annual Cannabis Science Virtual Event on March 23, 2022. The speaker roster for this free confer ...
JUN 15, 2022
Cannabis Sciences
Cannabis and intimacy
JUN 15, 2022
Cannabis and intimacy
Does cannabis enhance or inhibit intimacy? The answer is complicated
JUL 15, 2022
Cannabis Sciences
Study Indicates Teen Cannabis Vaping is Increasing
JUL 15, 2022
Study Indicates Teen Cannabis Vaping is Increasing
Despite a decrease in overall youth substance abuse during the pandemic, cannabis vaping among adolescents is on the ris ...
JUL 20, 2022
Cannabis Sciences
Why Health Experts Consider Delta 8 THC Dangerous
JUL 20, 2022
Why Health Experts Consider Delta 8 THC Dangerous
Delta 8 is booming in popularity, but health experts are concerned. Here's why.
Loading Comments...