Canna~Fangled Abstracts

Terpene Synthases and Terpene Variation in Cannabis Sativa

By June 26, 2020 June 29th, 2020 No Comments

doi: 10.1104/pp.20.00593.

Online ahead of print.


Cannabis (Cannabis sativa) resin is the foundation of a multi-billion dollar medicinal and recreational plant bioproducts industry. Major components of the cannabis resin are the cannabinoids and terpenes. Variations of cannabis terpene profiles contribute much to the different flavor and fragrance phenotypes that affect consumer preferences. A major problem in the cannabis industry is the lack of proper metabolic characterization of many of the existing cultivars, combined with sometimes incorrect cultivar labeling. We characterized foliar terpene profiles of plants grown from 32 seed sources and found large variation both within and between sets of plants labeled as the same cultivar. We selected five plants representing different cultivars with contrasting terpene profiles for clonal propagation, floral metabolite profiling and trichome-specific transcriptome sequencing. Sequence analysis of these five cultivars and the reference genome of the Purple Kush (PK) cultivar revealed a total of 33 different cannabis terpene synthase (CsTPS) genes as well as variations of the CsTPS gene family and differential expression of terpenoid and cannabinoid pathway genes between cultivars. Our annotation of the PK reference genome identified 19 complete CsTPS gene models, and tandem arrays of isoprenoid and cannabinoid biosynthetic genes. An updated phylogeny of the CsTPS gene family showed three cannabis-specific clades, including a clade of sesquiterpene synthases within the TPS-b subfamily that typically contains mostly monoterpene synthases. The CsTPSs described and functionally characterized here include 13 that had not been previously characterized and collectively explain a diverse range of cannabis terpenes.


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