13th Feb 2020
The marijuana industry is still on a wave of legalization, even if the initial buzz has petered out. What hasn’t burnt out, however, is the research. Legalization has opened up the doors for research, and we see exponential development in science and technology-related cannabis studies.
Tissue Culture, or micropropagation, is set to change the future of cannabis cloning. Although cloning is not a new concept, cloning plants with tissue culture is coming into the spotlight as the cannabis industry continues to expand. Furthermore, cell technology is an ally for businesses that require high yields, excellent genetics, and consistent results. Let's have a glimpse into this cloning method and find out why it is setting the tone for commercial cannabis growers.
Seeds or clones; these are the two growing methods you may have heard of, or even tried yourself. For most novice marijuana growers, these have been the only two choices for some time, up until recently. Growing from seeds can help to avoid pests and other contaminants, but seeds require consistent attention as they grow, and as they develop into mature plants, they can develop into seeding male plants.
Using clones can offer a rapid alternative, and also offers a way to guarantee the genetics you desire in your plants. But as with everything, there are downsides; they can succumb to diseases more easily and require more time than plants grown from seeds. Once you get the hang of cloning, it can be an effective and rewarding method. However, in cases where genetics, consistently high yields, and quality are of extreme importance, traditional cloning may not be enough. Tissue culture is a form of cloning that requires a sterile environment, plant preservative mixture composition, and several other parameters that need to be strictly met.
Researchers are making monumental advancements in cannabis studies and research. One significant area is the cultivation of cannabis. In order for cannabis to be cultivated on a commercial level, there are a plethora of parameters to observe - and that doesn’t even include the legal parameters, which are different for each state. Commercial cannabis should be free of harmful compounds and chemicals and oftentimes require specific genetics. Tissue culture offers growers the chance to cultivate high yielding, quality, and gene-specific, uniform plants.
And with the commercial cannabis market set to continue in its stride, micropropagation could become the norm amongst cannabis growers.
What is Plant Tissue Culture?
Plant Tissue culture can be referred to as micropropagation, and as the name suggests, the process uses tissue culture for propagating plants.
In the process, plant media (referred to as the explant) is gathered from the mother plant and placed in a sterile environment or container containing gelling media rich with nutrients and vitamins to ensure healthy growth. The media provides the developing plantlets with the necessary nutrients and hormones required for healthy root and shoot development.
If you are familiar with traditional cloning, you will know that it can take up a fair amount of space should you account for your mother tree as well. With tissue culture, the space required is significantly less, and your strain genetics are still preserved. Once the plant media has grown and is ready to be transplanted, it is transferred into a different medium that helps to manage growth.
Now that we know what tissue culture is, and have a general idea about how it works, let's see why some are considering tissue culture to be the future of cannabis cloning. While the entire process requires strict and meticulous observation of protocols and cleanliness, it is a rewarding method that could be used for the following significant developments in the cannabis industry:
Preserved plant genetics
New parents are often eager to see who the child takes after. Whose genes are evident in their new bundle of joy? The truth is that both parents’ genes are present, and both parents are also aware that the child will not be an exact match, genetically speaking, of either the mother or father. It works much the same with cannabis seeds, each seed has a different genetic composition, sometimes almost identical to the plant it came from, and sometimes slightly different. With tissue culture propagation, on the other hand, the genetics are guaranteed to be a genetic copy of the plant media used.
In a business where genetics and large yields equate to high profit, tissue culture can be used to not only preserve plants that carry rare genetics but also to ensure and secure specific plant genetics.
The tissue culture process is space-efficient and therefore, can utilize space for more plantlets. This, coupled with ideal genetics, offers a yield that is not only higher but more consistent as well. And the result of this? Higher profits for companies and commercial growers.
Optimized and Efficient
Plants grown through plant tissue culture will require a strictly controlled sterile environment, and the plants will need diligent attention. However, this due diligence will offer a reward; the new plantlets will carry excellent genes that will allow for the highest yield in the quickest manner possible.
Now, why is this method likely going to replace conventional methods of cloning cannabis?
What drives an industry? Profit? Perhaps, but not entirely. For there to be a profit, there needs to be a demand. And in the cannabis sector, there is plenty of demand afoot.
While the average cannabis consumer is still uncertain about the specifics, knowledge about cannabis is spreading, and consumers will begin to have high standards and specific demands. In order to cope, the commercial cannabis industry will need to rely on methods and practices that allow them to grow superb and precise cannabis genotypes. This is where micropropagation will begin to take over, first in large scale commercial grows and then, as it becomes a normalized practice, in small scale grows and even legal home grows.
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