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Biotech Medicine Science

Sequencing the Weed Genome 315

GNUman writes "Maybe soon we'll be able to genetically modify humans so that a specific action (e.g., tapping your nose, pinching your ear) triggers the release of THC directly from your own cells. From the Nature blog post: 'At last, the field of genomics has something to offer Cheech and Chong. DNA sequencing hit a new high last night with the midnight release of the Cannabis sativa genome. The raw sequence was posted on Amazon's EC2 public cloud computing service by a young company called Medicinal Genomics, which aims to explore the genomes of therapeutic plants.'"
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Sequencing the Weed Genome

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  • I think the higher ratio of cannabinoids to thc and the specific cbd profiles would likely be more useful for medical treatment for glaucoma, arthritis, and other muscular and immune problems than sativa which is more of a cerebral psychedelic high.

    i know i wish i could get natural cbd's to treat arthritis without messing up my mind.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      indica has a much more pronouced sedative effect... 10 minutes after using some strong indica, you are either completely zoned out or passed out. Sativa is a much more energetic intoxication. Strong sativas come from cross breeding with indicas, but still retain the energetic intoxication.

      ...without messing up my mind

      There is a very rapid tolerance with strong cannabis. By the third day of heavy use, you don't even notice it anymore. So the side effect of intoxication is there initially, but if you were using strong stuff daily, you

      • Would love to have a link for the sewage comment.

        Yes. THC is the heavy paranoid high part. Cannabinoids are the happy laughing part.

        They had a cool special on BBC which had a reporter spending 30 days in Amsterdam and you got to see both. She couldn't stop laughing on the Can. But the heavy THC weed- she felt bad and went to sleep for the day.

        • by Khyber ( 864651 )

          THC *IS* a cannabinoid.

          Elsewise, it would not interact with our endoCANNABINOID system.

    • by Khyber ( 864651 )

      No, as THC is highly useful as an immunosuppressant and in the field of transplant medicine that would be far more desirable of a compound to isolate.

  • by Compaqt ( 1758360 ) on Saturday August 20, 2011 @11:43PM (#37158454) Homepage

    with the Opera gestures [opera.com].

    Hold your arm and move to the right for the next high.

    Boss coming? Minimize: down and then left.

  • DNA sequencing hit a new high last night ...

    I don't like it.

  • by jonwil ( 467024 ) on Saturday August 20, 2011 @11:44PM (#37158460)

    Now all we need is for someone to take an existing food plant that is legal to grow (and that couldn't be banned) like corn and add some weed genes so that when its consumed, it gives the effects of weed (i.e. make the corn contain the THC and things that the weed contains)

    No way for the cops to detect it short of chemical analysis and there is far too much corn grown in the US to make that possible.

    • by dzr0001 ( 1053034 ) on Saturday August 20, 2011 @11:48PM (#37158478)
      And then use the corn to make Cheetos and kill 2 birds.
    • Too complex. They need to make algae that acts like weed. So you still get the same delivery methods, but growing it becomes a lot simpler. Go down to the pond, or use a 2L bottle in the windowsill. Not to mention that instead of a 50-80 day growing cycle you shorten it to under a week.

    • HIGH fructose corn syrup

    • Ok Blofeld, we'll get right on that...

    • How about adding THC to actual, native weeds? Make it so everyone in the whole city has some hallucinogenic plant growing in their backyard, whether they want it or not.

      In any case, being impossible to adequately enforce hasn't stopped them from trying so far.

      • Weed is, if not native to the Americas, a very well naturalized visitor, and it is pretty weed-like. According to 2005 figures [albany.edu], well over 95% of the plants eradicated in US law enforcement operations were just wild growing weed weeds, rather than the cultivated stuff.
      • by fyngyrz ( 762201 )

        How about adding THC to actual, native weeds?

        Weeds, hell. Add it to lawn grass, and make it aggressive, so it takes over the lawn in no time. :)

        "Leroy, what'choo doin' out there?"

        "Mowin' the lawn, ma!"


        "Needs mowin', ma. Really, really needs mowin. Could you make me a snack?"

    • by Greyfox ( 87712 )
      Or just tweak a flu virus to inject the gene into your body, so that you get the flu and are perpetually high ever after. Cut out the middle man.
    • Add it to yeast. Houblon or Sugar + Yeats = Mari jeanne. And you don't need a field.
    • Pfft. I will not be satisfied until genetic engineers produce psychoactive, smokeable DEA agents!
    • This is stuff of urban legends - Nanofsky's trippy oranges [fleeb.com].

      It's not true, of course - but even if it were, they'd just ban all oranges, like they did to hemp cloth.

      • Hemp cloth isn't banned nor has it ever been banned. I know this because I can go to the local mall and buy items that are made with hemp without having to use code words and the package itself says that it's made from hemp.

        Now, if you're talking about cultivation, that's a completely different matter. Either way, you shouldn't be spreading that sort of misinformation.

    • French fries would be better.
    • by fhic ( 214533 ) on Sunday August 21, 2011 @02:07AM (#37159008)

      People have been doing that for many years with the common hop vine (Humulus lupulus) which is also a member of the Cannabaceae family. Grafting hop vines onto a good Cannabis rootstock yields a scion with strobili that are visually indistinguishable from an ordinary hop flower. Unfortunately, the product is not very potent-- the best outcome is maybe 1.5-2% THC (and only trace amounts of other interesting compounds) which is terrible compared to the 10-20% THC that you can get from a well-managed C. sativa or C. indica flower. Also, the graft process is very finicky, the scion does not grow as well as an ungrafted vine, and your resulting plant is annual (like Cannabis) rather than perennial (like Humulus.) The hops you get are not terribly useful for beer-making, which is pretty much the only use for hops. (Some people like to make a sedative tea from hops, though I doubt that would be a good delivery method for the THC, since it's not water-soluble.) One other major "gotcha" is that the Cannabis plant matures much faster than hops, and the production density is hundreds of times better for Cannabis than Humulus.

      Interestingly, there is some published scientific literature (see Crombie) that claims this grafting process does not work. However, I wonder, because Crombie talks about the hops "leaves" even though the only useful part of the plant is the flower (or properly, the "strobile.") The research I mention above has not been published, though the "1.5-2% THC" value I quoted has been measured by GC-MS. And, of course, there are just tons of anecdotal evidence from amateur gardeners that support either opinion.

      I'll let someone else do the genetic research, but I think it may eventually be possible to engineer an algae that eats sunlight and poops THC. Wouldn't that be fun!

      • I'd personally clone the relevant genes for cannabinoid production into intestinal bacteria and put them in an operon triggered by a readily available substance. Want a high? Eat some malt sugar...
      • by Khyber ( 864651 )

        Whomever rated this informative needs some extra information, here.

        First off - Australian Bastard Cannabis - a crossbreeding of hops and cannabis, is quite potent, actually, and doesn't look like cannabis due to the rounded leaves. Well, it doesn't look like it until it flowers, then you aren't mistaking the cannabis buds. And you've never had beer until you have had it made from ABC.

        THC is not ENTIRELY water soluble (saturation at 2% concentration in water) but is quite soluble in ethanol - why use hops if

    • by twistah ( 194990 )

      You would likely need something you could smoke or vaporize, or at least easily cook into/dissolve in fat, because I don't *think* enough cannabinoids would be released for a person to feel the effects, otherwise.

    • Sorry to pop your balloon, but they'll simply outlaw all corn with enough THC to get a high. Like they did with hemp. You can grow hemp all right, as long as it's a kind that is low on THC and can't be used to get high.

      • by jonwil ( 467024 )

        Except that unless you test every one of the 1000s of fields of corn in the US and test them every season (or probably more often) as well as testing imports of corn and retailers selling corn products you cant tell the difference between the good corn and the normal corn.

        Also, although some states in the US now technically allow the production of hemp under license, its still illegal under federal drug laws.

  • Unfortunately, I foresee a new kind of prohibition. How long before the US Congress legislates to make a gene illegal?

  • that they have verified that

    1.) They are certain that heredity is solely controlled by genes.
    2.) They are certain that DNA is the sole mechanism for passing on genes.
    3.) That looking at DNA sequences is a productive method of finding causes of things.

    Personally I believe that they are uncertain in (1), uncertain in (2) and that (3) is not true. DNA is a waste of time with regards to 99.99999% of human behaviour.

    • 1. Genes are by definition the unit of inheritance. 2. No, RNA can be used as well. Really F'd up stuff at that. Some plants can restore copies of genes from their grandparents but were not in thier parents. Copies are kept in cytoplasmic RNA and can be triggered by environmental conditions, or even just randomly turn back on. 3. Depends on what you're looking for. It can be quite usefull if your looking for a biological explanation.
    • Re:Just to check (Score:5, Informative)

      by jamesh ( 87723 ) on Sunday August 21, 2011 @02:02AM (#37158992)

      that they have verified that

      1.) They are certain that heredity is solely controlled by genes.
      2.) They are certain that DNA is the sole mechanism for passing on genes.
      3.) That looking at DNA sequences is a productive method of finding causes of things.

      Personally I believe that they are uncertain in (1), uncertain in (2) and that (3) is not true. DNA is a waste of time with regards to 99.99999% of human behaviour.

      WTF have you been smoking? Even if 1 and 2 are not completely true, there is enough about us programmed into our genes that it's still a useful thing to know. Human behaviour is part nature part nurture, not exclusively one or the other, and I bet the nature part is more than the 0.00001% figure you cite. Understanding the nature part can help us understand the nurture part better, so it's not a waste of time.

  • Then he can Bogart the weed with out actually bogarting the weed.

In less than a century, computers will be making substantial progress on ... the overriding problem of war and peace. -- James Slagle