DDD Conference

6. Prof. Nirit Bernstein

Impact of Environmental and Cultivation Conditions on Secondary Metabolism and Development of Medical Cannabis (Cannabis Sativa. L.) plants

Volcani Institute, Agricultural Research Organization, Israel

Environmental conditions are known to affect secondary metabolism in plants. Cannabis (Cannabis sativa L.) is used by humanity for thousands of years for medical, industrial and recreational use. In recent years, its cultivation for modern agriculture and the demand for medical-grade cannabis products are sharply increasing. The therapeutic effects of cannabis are derived from its chemical constituents, encompassing hundreds of biologically active secondary metabolites, including terpenoids, flavonoids and the cannabis-specific cannabinoids. Understanding regulation of plant response to environmental conditions is key for development of optimal chemical profile for modern medicine. Only little science-based knowledge is available regarding regulation and responses of ‘drug-type’ medical cannabis plants to environmental/cultivation practices. Such information is essential for the optimization of cultivation for production of high quality standardized material for the medical market, as well as for development of plant products containing specific desirable phytochemical profiles. In the talk we will present and discus various studies in our lab that revealed recently high sensitivity of plant function and biosynthesis of secondary metabolites to a range of environmental and cultivation conditions in cannabis. The secondary metabolite profile is highly sensitive to light intensity, light quality, temperature, micro-environment in the plant shoot as is affected also by plant architectural manipulation and plant density, and to mineral nutrition. These results points at the potential of physical and chemical exogenous effectors imposed during cultivation to regulate plant development and the profile of active secondary metabolites in medical cannabis.


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