Developing precision breeding tools to facilitate creation of variaties to maximize yield and quality under different growing conditions

As growers strive to grow uniform and consistently high-quality cannabis, they can solely rely on their expertise and on knowledge transferred from other horticultural crops. But with the new wave of legalization going on in many parts of the globe, researchers have started again exploring the intricacies of the cannabis plant. Among the other things, research has been also focusing on investigating which cannabis cultivars have the most optimal characteristics – both in terms of medical value and growing vigor. This also because it is critical to have scientifically-based protocols to optimize yield quality and productivity in different growth conditions

Following this thread, Naim-Feil et al. have conducted research on a diverse population of 121 genotypes, which was published last week on BMC Plant Biology. These genotypes were grown in a CEA facility, and 13 plant parameters were measured. The goal of this study was to “generate scientifically-based knowledge that can support the development of precision breeding tools and facilitate the generation of superior varieties for medicinal applications,” the paper reads.

One of the first things that researchers tried to understand was how physiological and phenological factors dictate a plant’s phenotypic expression, as this would shed light on how to adapt a cultivar to different cultivation environments using strain-specific grow recipes.
Plant height and diameter were some of the first aspects to be analyzed. The researchers found out that these were determined by factors that can differ from one genotype to another. Some of these are:

1- Growth rate during the reproductive and vegetative stages;
2- Plant size on planting day;
3- The duration which passes before the impact of the daylight change is observed;
4- The type of growth deceleration response;
5- the overall period between short daylight induction and complete growth cessation.

Plant height and stem diamater
Through a comparative analysis, the study suggests that stem diameter growth rate is very little affected by the transition from vegetative to reproductive. On the other hand, plant height growth rate was more susceptible to this change. And this is indeed a very important element.

When looking at the trait distribution, researchers concluded that “higher plants often mature early and are more productive,” they said. “Therefore, it is important to better understand the factors which determine the final plant height.”

Finally, the study points out that to maximize a plant’s potential through cultivation adjustments, “the characterization of medicinal cannabis cultivar should include its unique growth pattern features.”


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