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Fusing Firefly DNA & Cannabis • Grow Magazine


By Vanessa Salvia

Scientists at the University of Connecticut are fusing cannabis DNA with firefly DNA to study how cannabis develops cannabinoids. Cannabis plants contain dozens of compounds known as cannabinoids, but the best known is CBD. The process by which the plant produces cannabinoids is not well understood beyond the knowledge that the cannabinoids are produced by the plant’s trichomes. University of Connecticut research assistant professor Yi Ma and Gerry Berkowitz, professor in the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, are striving to discover how trichrome development and cannabinoid synthesis are related. The research team has already discovered the “ingredients,” known as transcription factors, that cause cells on the flowers to turn into trichomes. The University of Connecticut has filed a provisional patent application on the technology that will allow the researchers to clone parts of the transcription factors, called promoters. They will then combine the promoters along with a copy of the gene that makes fireflies light up, known as firefly luciferase. Since the genes are fused together, the luciferase will generate light in a way that can reveal the cannabinoid synthesis and trichome development.

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