The inheritance of chemical phenotype in Cannabis sativa L. (III): variation in cannabichromene proportion
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The mechanism that controls the proportion of cannabichromene (CBC), a potential pharmaceutical, in the cannabinoid fraction of Cannabis sativa L. is explored. As with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), CBC is an enzymatic conversion product of the precursor cannabigerol (CBG). CBC is reported to dominate the cannabinoid fraction of juveniles and to decline with maturation. This ontogeny was confirmed in inbred lines with different mature chemotypes. A consistent CBC presence was found in early leaves from a diverse clone collection, suggesting that CBC synthase is encoded by a fixed locus. Morphological variants possessing a ‘prolonged juvenile chemotype’ (PJC), a substantial proportion of CBC persisting up to maturity, are presented. PJC is associated with a reduced presence of floral bracts, bracteoles, and capitate-stalked trichomes. Genetic factors causing these features were independent of the allelic chemotype locus B that was previously postulated and regulates THC and CBD synthesis and CBG accumulation. In contrast to previously described Cannabis chemotypes, the cannabinoid composition of PJCs showed plasticity in that reduced light levels increased the CBC proportion. The ability of PJC plants to enable the production of pharmaceutical raw material with high CBC purity is demonstrated.
KeywordsCannabichromene Cannabis Chemotype Genotype Ontogeny Plasticity
We are grateful to Giuseppe Mandolino for his useful comments on a primary version of the manuscript and to David Potter for introducing the possibility of a more prominent CBC biosynthesis in the sessile trichomes.
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