Cannabis Tissue Culture and Plant Genetics

Apollo Green is a cannabis licensed producer of more than 360 world-class cannabis strains that cultivate cannabis plants for commercial retail to licensed producers who cultivate the plants to maturity and harvest their flowers for sale. With the help of the Centre for Natural Products, Apollo Green researched cloning techniques called “tissue culture”, which can produce many more plants than with traditional methods and a significant reduction in contamination.

A number of seeds, clones, and mother plants provided by Apollo Green were grown in the Centre. The seedlings produced were used for genetic testing while the clones and mother plants were used for testing tissue culture methods. Tissue culture efforts demonstrated success in shoot proliferation and low contamination rates, with preliminary success in root formation. With successful tissue culturing, Apollo Green can use tissue culture, gender, and cannabinoid ratio research from the projects on an industrial scale to better supply licensed producers. These companies can then benefit by reducing their labour costs, optimizing their grow space, and having access to rare strains.

A second aspect of the original research project was genetically testing plants to identify if a plant is a female or male, as well as the ratios of major cannabinoids the plants will produce.

Flowers from cannabis plants contain cannabinoids that are used for medical and recreational effects, and female plants produce more potent flowers when they are not fertilized. If not caught early, flowering male cannabis plants can fertilize flowering female plants causing the female flowers to produce seeds instead of increasing potency.  It is important to be able to identify if a plant is female or male as early as possible and separate the plants so that resources aren’t spent growing male plants that would fertilize the female plants. It is also important to test the ratio of cannabinoids a plant will produce because Apollo Green’s customers use this information when deciding which plant strains to purchase.

A method for gender identification has been successfully adopted, and a similar process for chemotype identification has been tested and is being integrated into additional research projects.

Through funding from the Ontario Centre of Innovation (OCI), a current project is expanding the research on cannabis tissue culture, plant genetics and micropropagation.