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Researchers Discover the Genes that Give Cannabis its Flavor

4/3/17 8:54 AM

There are hundreds upon hundreds of different cannabis strains, each with their own distinct smell and taste. Now, researchers at the University of British Columbia have identified the genes responsible for giving strains their skunky, earthy and lemony flavors.

The team found about 30 genes that produce terpenes, which contribute to specific aromas and flavors. That number is comparable to similar genes that play a role in grapevine flavor for the wine industry. For example, the limonene compound produces a lemon-citrus flavor and promotes an elevated mood, while the myrcene compound produces an earthly flavor and is an effective anti-inflammatory and induces sleep.

"The goal is to develop well-defined and highly-reproducible cannabis varieties. This is similar to the wine industry, which depends on defined varieties such as chardonnay or merlot for high value products," says Jörg Bohlmann, a professor in the Michael Smith Laboratories and faculty of forestry at UBC.

Researchers also discovered a gene that produces the signature terpene of cannabis, beta-caryophyllene which interacts with cannabinoid receptors in human cells. With the ability to act synergistically with other cannabis compounds, many believe terpenes play a key role in differentiating the effects of various strains. This new knowledge highlights the importance of terpenes and how they react with cannabinoids to improve the medicinal properties of cannabis.

Terpenes are not just found in cannabis but in other herbs, fruits and plants to protect them from predators while luring in pollinators. However, different harvests of the same strain can drastically differ depending on growing and curing techniques.

Producing high-quality, potent cannabis is greatly affected by environmental growing conditions. The slightest fluctuation in temperature, humidity or CO₂ could make or break a harvest. For around-the-clock supervision, MadgeTech offers the Element data logger series to ensure proper grow conditions are being maintained. To view all of the data logging solutions for cannabis cultivation, click here.

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