Epigenetics Technology Creates High-Yield Mega-CannabisCann10, a medical cannabis company, has partnered with biotech company Epigenetics on a quest to create a new breed of “mega-cannabis” that is easier to cultivate and produces higher yields.
The two Israeli companies have formed a joint company named Cann10 EpiGen that has begun research on utilizing an epigenetics breeding technology on cannabis plants.
What is Epigenetics?
In literal terms, epigenetics is defined as “on top of” or “above” genetics. Using the practice of epigenetics, researchers learned to make external modifications to DNA in order to switch genes either “on” or “off,” similar to how a computer uses binary code. The DNA sequence is not directly altered or modified, but the way the genes are interpreted by cells is changed.
Additionally, it is possible for epigenetic alterations to DNA to be passed to future generations. In cannabis and hemp, once the desired traits have been achieved, inheritability ensures each new seed carries the same characteristics.
How Cann10 EpiGen Use Advanced Techniques for Better Cannabis
In this case, the epigenetics technique involves using a breeding process that reveals hidden parts of the plant’s DNA and enables select genes to express themselves.
It’s important to note that this process is not the same as genetic modification, as some cannabis news outlets have mistakenly reported. Epigenetics does not actually change the DNA itself — instead, it modifies the way the DNA sequence is used by the organism. In other words, epigenetics can alter a plant’s traits, but it doesn’t change the actual cannabis genome.
By increasing photosynthesis, epigenetics technology has shown improvements in the yields of other types of crops such as tomatoes and corn. Researchers managed to multiply the plants’ photosynthesis level by 100, which allows the crops to increase in yield significantly.
The researchers hope to apply the same technology to cannabis plants over the next six months and release their initial findings by the summer of 2020.
Implications for the Cannabis Industry
If Cann10 EpiGen proves to be successful with their experiments, the potential their breeding technology has could significantly impact the cannabis industry’s future.
The overall goal is to breed a cultivar of cannabis, which is easier to cultivate and provides higher yields. By creating a new type of high-producing cannabis, cannabis companies could produce more products from the same amount of plants. In the long run, cultivators can expect lower overhead costs and increased profit margins.
Ori Alperovitz — CEO of Cann10 — has stated for an interview in the Jerusalem Post that “the collaboration with Epigenetics is the result of a constant search for the next exceptional invention in the cannabis industry. We believe that the groundbreaking invention will change the rules of the game of the global cannabis industry.”
Cann10 EpiGen has plans, as their research progresses, to allow franchisees to use the technology, both within the Israeli cannabis industry and abroad.
Companies that can acquire Cann10 EpiGen’s breeding technology will undoubtedly have a tremendous advantage over competitors, as their profitability will increase significantly. In such a fiercely competitive industry, such benefits can mean the difference between becoming a profitable and successful cannabis company or going out of business.
Is GMO Cannabis a Question of Ethics?
Although epigenetics doesn’t directly alter DNA, many people question whether altering the biology of the plant at all is either ethical or safe. Some wonder if genetic code changes could impact the expression of specific cannabinoids, or if there are unforeseen disadvantages. In the long-term, could there be a trade-off for activating or deactivating particular genes?
Just like all things in the cannabis industry, more research and further understanding will reveal the overall impact of this type of scientific experimentation.