Hemp Breeding and Intellectual Property Protection of Cultivars
The Emerald Trade Alliance had the pleasure of hosting Todd Dalotto on our Hemp panel at our Member Meeting in November. Todd gave a wonderful presentation on protection for cultivars, read his synopsis below!
• One of the longest and most important mutualistic relationships with humans
• One of the first cultivated crops.
• Botanical origin Central (Caucasus to Altai Mountains), South (Himalayan to Hindu Kush Foothills) &
East Asia (Hengduan Yungui Region)
• Repeated cycles of the Ice Ages àrange of distribution and it’s diversity of traits
• Mutualistic relationship – wild-harvested plants for food, fiber, and euphoria ->further extended the
range of cannabis and concentrated the Cannabis plant communities in areas where humans gathered
and along human migration routes à purposeful planting and cultivation of cannabis and other plants
• Become one of the most important plants à distinct biotypes, based upon their utility (ie. fiber hemp,
oilseed, medicine, etc)
• Cannabaceae includes over 170 species and 11 genera including its closest relative, Humulus (hops).
• Misclassification in Urticaceae and Moraceae
• Monotypic genus – Cannabis sativa, with subspecies, sativa, indica, and ruderalis
• Monotypic genus – Cannabis sativa, with biotypes, Narrow Leaflet Drug (NLD), Broad Leaflet Drug
(BLD), Narrow Leaflet Hemp (NLH), and Broad Leaflet Hemp (BLH).
• Polytypic genus – at least three distinct species within the genus, C. sativa, C. indica, and C. ruderalis
which are highly cross-compatible
• Assume polytypic genus for this presentation.
• C. indica – N-S migration à sub-Saharan Africa – C. sativa
• Evolution of C. ruderalis is less certain – escape of fiber variety? Or remnant of indica?
• Phenotype characteristics
• The art & science of improving heritable traits
• Prohibition à nearly all development and improvement of cannabis cultivars outside of traditional and
academic breeding programs by growers with little or no formal education in horticulture or genetics
• Lack of Plant Variety Protection in United States
• Result – poor recordkeeping, uncertain pedigrees, lack of true-to-name, lack of incentive
• As markets become legalized and more regulated these conditions are expected to improve.
• Cannabis breeding characteristics
o Cross-compatible and self-compatible
o Gynobidiclinous stress response
o F1- nearly phenotypically uniform, but genotypically variable; maintained with stable parental
o F2 generation – wide phenotypic and genotypic variations in offspring
• Inbreeding – highly uniform in phenotype and genotype à stable after ~7 generations
o Maintaining cultivar
o In-breeding depression
• Backcross Breeding – Acquire one trait from donor parent into existing cultivar
• Feminized Reproduction
Genes as Heritable Traits
• Unique Traits Based in Genes
• Trait Expression Dependent Upon Environment
• Gene Sequencing – the DNA sequence of each chromosome
o Genomic Sequencing of Cannabis
§ Harm van Bakel, et.al. 2011 The draft genome and transcriptome of Cannabis sativa.
§ Difference between hemp & marijuana – replacement of D-9 THC synthase (marijuana)
with cannabolic acid synthase (in hemp).
• Gene Mapping – describing the order of markers along the chromosome
o Genomic Mapping of Cannabis by Medicinal Genomics, Massachusetts, 2011
• Molecular markers
• PCR – Polymerase Chain Reaction
o Denature DNA molecule, use primers to target beginning & end of gene (annealing), “replicate”
copy of gene with DNA polymerase (extension), and repeat.
• Gel Electrophoresis
o Stained agarose gel-buffer solution
• Marker Assisted Selection
Genetic Control of Cannabinoid Production
• Utility Patents – for genes, genomes, and innovations
• Plant Patents – for asexually-reproduced crops
• Plant Variety Protection (PVP) – for sexually-reproduced crops
• Plant Breeders Rights in Canada & Europe
• No U.S. Recognition of PVP
o Results in:
§ Poor Recordkeeping
§ Pedigrees Uncertain
§ Lack of “True-to-Name” Qualities
§ Lack of Incentive for Breeders
Data Required for PVP & Plant Patents
• Distinctive traits (qualitative & quantitative)
• Comparison with known cultivars
• Breeding History
• Public or commercial activity
• Growing conditions
• Propagation method
• Growth & development
• Pest & disease resistance
• Molecular Data used to demonstrate cultivar distinctiveness
o Molecular marker must be publically-disclosed, cited, clearly identified, and detectable by a
Lecture outline is published with permission ©2017 CAN! Research, Education & Consulting, LLC