Biotech start-up Medicinal Genomics has sequenced the DNA of Cannabis sativa. From Nature News Blog:
Thus far the company is only posting the raw sequence reads – meaning that the over 131 billion bases of shotgun sequence have not yet undergone the important and arduous process of being assembled into contiguous chunks. For now, the sequence is fragmented into hundreds of thousands of snippets. But Medicinal Genomics founder Kevin McKernan says he estimates the size of the C. sativa genome to be about 400 million bases – roughly three times the genome of that other weed, the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana.
And in case you're wondering: the DNA was extracted and prepped for sequencing in a laboratory in Amsterdam.
McKernan says he was turned on to the idea of sequencing cannabis by a 2003 publication in Nature Reviews Cancer about the many potential uses – including fighting cancer – of cannabinoids. C. sativa makes about sixty of the compounds. Although THC has gotten the most attention, McKernan hopes his company's data will help scientists explore a few of the others, and perhaps guide plant breeding programs to generate new Cannabis strains.