Mapping key DNA markers for the autoflower trait to accelerate breeding elite hemp and cannabis varieties

NRGene and Kayagene ongoing collaboration was initiated over 2 years ago, beginning with genomic assembly of several of Kayagene’s cannabis and hemp breeding lines, using NRGene’s DenovoMAGIC™ technology. "Now, the companies have successfully mapped several key genes including the autoflowering gene, which is a highly desired trait and of great interest for the hemp and cannabis industries," NRGene team explains. "NRGene estimates, that following the development of DNA markers for the autoflowering trait, it is now possible to integrate this trait into any hemp and cannabis variety within 12 to 18 months."

Cannabis and hemp plants are typically photoperiod dependent, meaning the plants start flowering only when daylength becomes shorter and approaches 12 hours. However, cannabis and hemp plants harboring the day-neutral or “autoflower” gene, flower automatically when they are 3-4 weeks old, no matter the daylength. Thus, varieties with this trait can be grown year-round in greenhouse or fields without the necessity to manipulate daylength, which is cost-efficient for multiple flower or seed harvests.

“Our efficient genomic capabilities enabled the rapid and accurate mapping of the autoflower trait and the identification of linked DNA markers,” said DR. Gil Ronen, NRGene’s CEO & Co-Founder. “Using these markers, Kayagene can now reduce, by 50%, the time required to incorporate the autoflower trait into their proprietary elite cannabis and hemp varieties.”

Trait mapping and marker-assisted breeding are vital in a competitive market because it accelerates the time to market for unique and improved varieties harboring those key traits. The use of molecular markers enables rapid and accurate selections and reduces the presence of deleterious genes introduced by traditional breeding methods.

“Kayagene is employing these advanced techniques using NRGene’s genomics tools and our vast experience with breeding, to develop improved elite hemp and cannabis varieties. Our goal is to accelerate the industry by developing highly competitive, vigorous, and reliable genetics through the application of genomic tools and analytics,” says Dr. Christopher Hohn, Kayagene’s Director of R&D.

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