420 with CNW — Canadian Researchers to Receive $4 Million to Develop Better Marijuana Breeds

November 4, 2020 15:25:11

Although the nascent cannabis industry is among the fastest-growing sectors in the world, it is plagued by challenges. For instance, because cultivating, researching and selling cannabis was prohibited for decades, cultivars have limited genetic knowledge and breeding resources. This puts the industry at a severe disadvantage against other crops that have undergone genetic research and experimentation to create superior genetics.

However, thanks to $4.2 million in federal, provincial and industry funding, this may soon be a thing of the past. Awarded to researchers at the University of British Columbia (“UBC”), the grant will be used to study enhanced cannabis cultivars with a particular focus on disease resistance. Dubbed Fast-Tracking Breeding of Powdery Mildew-Resistant Cannabis, the study will be led by UBC researchers Loren Rieseberg and Marco Todesco in partnership with Greg Baute and Charles Pick of Canadian-based Aurora Cannabis.

According to study leader Rieseberg, the plan is “to develop a genomics-enabled breeding pipeline that will increase the speed and precision of cannabis improvement and bridge the gap in genetic knowledge and breeding resources that currently separates cannabis from other crops.” One of the group’s main focuses will be to create genetics that are resistant to powdery mildew, a common fungal disease that is difficult to get rid of and can destroy cannabis crops.

“In collaboration with Aurora Cannabis, we’ll apply this pipeline to solving a major limiting factor to large-scale cannabis production, susceptibility to powdery mildew,” Rieseberg says. The ultimate goal is to establish a breeding pipeline of cultivars with “superior agronomic performances” that are more resistant to powdery mildew, thus better suited for large-scale production.

“The Government of Canada is proud to support Canada’s world-leading stem cell and genomics research community,” said William Amos, parliamentary secretary to Navdeep Bains, the federal minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “Today’s investment has the potential to save lives and come up with new ways of solving environment and agricultural challenges. This is Canadian science and innovation in action.”

The funding was provided by Genome Canada, a nonprofit organization funded by the federal government. Approximately $15.4 million in federal funding will be provided to support 10 genomics research projects across the country focusing on health, agriculture and the environment, with additional funding worth more than $56 million coming from provincial governments, businesses and research partners.

“The results of this project will benefit the Canadian cannabis industry and Canadian consumers, but also basic and applied science,” says Todesco. “The genomic resources that will be generated as part of this project will be freely available to the scientific community and will help us and other researchers to understand better this important crop and its evolution.”

Pac Roots Cannabis Corp. (CSE: PACR) is an interesting player in the cannabis space that you should watch. The company focuses on leveraging top-tier genetics to develop premium marijuana products and strains.

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