Exploring the Traits of Native Cannabis Plants in Iran

Greg Howard
2nd March, 2024

Exploring the Traits of Native Cannabis Plants in Iran

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • In Iran, researchers found diverse cannabis types with traits good for breeding
  • Some cannabis plants flower early and grow fast, ideal for efficient cultivation
  • Two populations, IR7385 and IR2845, show high potential for commercial use
Cannabis sativa L., commonly known as cannabis, has a long-standing significance across various human societies for its economic, social, and medicinal value. Despite its importance, research into cannabis has been limited due to historical prohibitions. However, as attitudes and laws are changing, there's a growing interest in understanding and optimizing this plant for different uses, including medicine and industry. A recent study by researchers at Ferdowsi University of Mashhad has made strides in classifying indigenous cannabis populations in Iran[1]. This research is particularly important because Iran's native cannabis has adapted to diverse environments, creating a wealth of genetic and phenotypic (observable characteristics) diversity. This kind of diversity is a goldmine for plant breeders who aim to develop new, high-performing cultivars. The study evaluated 25 indigenous populations, analyzing male and female plants based on 12 phenological (time-related growth stages) and 14 morphological (shape and structure) traits. The researchers aimed to understand the heritability of these traits—essentially, how reliably a trait can be passed from parent to offspring. They also looked at how these traits relate to one another and which ones are most influential in distinguishing different populations. Using a statistical method called Principal Component Analysis (PCA), the team identified the traits that most strongly differentiate these populations. They found that the populations could be broadly categorized into early, medium, and late flowering groups. Interestingly, the study reported high heritability for the Start Flower Formation Time in females and Flowering Time 50% in males, indicating strong potential for these traits to be selected in breeding programs. Two populations, IR7385 and IR2845, stood out with the highest commercial index, hinting at their suitability for economic purposes. In male plants, the IR2845 population showed the highest Relative Growth Rate, a measure of how quickly a plant gains biomass. These findings are key for breeders looking to maximize yield and efficiency. By clustering the populations based on morphological traits, the study provided a clear categorization that can guide breeding choices. For instance, early-flowering populations with high growth rates and harvest indexes are promising for breeding programs focused on quick turnarounds and high yields. This research builds upon earlier studies that have highlighted the importance of understanding cannabis's genetic and phenotypic traits. For example, a comprehensive phenotypic characterization of drug-type cannabis accessions in Canada revealed significant variation within the population, emphasizing the need for precise breeding and cultivar development[2]. Additionally, the potential of genome editing to introduce new traits without altering the cannabinoid profile has been discussed, and this Iranian study adds to the knowledge base by identifying traits with high heritability that could be targets for such editing[3]. Furthermore, maintaining specific cannabinoid compositions is crucial for therapeutic applications[4]. The Iranian study contributes by identifying traits that could be selected to indirectly influence cannabinoid production, such as growth rate and flowering time. The study also complements research that used image analysis to examine morphological attributes of cannabis inflorescences, as it provides further understanding of how environmental factors and genetics interact to determine plant morphology[5]. In summary, the Ferdowsi University of Mashhad's study has provided valuable insights into the phenotypic diversity of indigenous Iranian cannabis populations. It has identified traits with high heritability and potential for selection in breeding programs. This research is a significant step forward in optimizing cannabis cultivation for various applications, including medicinal use, by leveraging the rich genetic diversity found in Iran's indigenous cannabis populations.

GeneticsPlant ScienceAgriculture


Main Study

1) Characterization of indigenous populations of cannabis in Iran: a morphological and phenological study.

Published 29th February, 2024


Related Studies

2) Comprehensive Phenotypic Characterization of Diverse Drug-Type Cannabis Varieties from the Canadian Legal Market.


3) Challenges and potentials of new breeding techniques in Cannabis sativa.


4) The Cannabis Plant as a Complex System: Interrelationships between Cannabinoid Compositions, Morphological, Physiological and Phenological Traits.


5) Empirical Evaluation of Inflorescences' Morphological Attributes for Yield Optimization of Medicinal Cannabis Cultivars.


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