Cannabis is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world, having been domesticated in China some 12,000 years ago, a study finds.
Researchers led by the University of Lausanne analyzed the whole genome sequences of 110 Cannabis sativa to discover where the plants have their roots.
Their research found that cannabis – as we would know it – emerged in China during the Neolithic Age.
Despite having long been an important source of fiber and both medicinal and recreational drugs, much is unknown about the domestication history of cannabis.
This is because legal restrictions around the factory make collecting samples for analysis difficult, the team explained.
Cannabis is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world, having been domesticated in China some 12,000 years ago, a study finds. Pictured: Cannabis Landraces Growing in Qinghai Province, Central China
Researchers led by the University of Lausanne analyzed the whole genome sequences of 110 Cannabis sativas from around the world (pictured) to discover where the plants have their roots
CANNABIS: THE FACTS
Cannabis is a Class B illegal drug in the UK, meaning possession can lead to up to five years in prison and those supplying the drug can face up to 14 years in prison.
The drug is widely used for recreational purposes and can make users feel relaxed and happy, but smoking can also lead to feelings of panic, anxiety or paranoia.
Scientific studies have shown that the drug can relieve depression, anxiety and stress, but heavy use can make depression worse in the long term by reducing the brain’s ability to let go of bad memories.
It may also contribute to mental health problems in people who already have them, or increase users’ risk of psychosis or schizophrenia, according to research.
The study was conducted by molecular ecologist Guangpeng Ren of the University of Lausanne, Switzerland and colleagues.
“Cannabis sativa has long been an important source of fiber extracted from hemp and both medicinal and recreational drugs based on cannabinoid compounds,” the researchers wrote in their paper.
‘Here we have examined the little-known history of domestication.
“We show that C. sativa was first domesticated in early Neolithic times in East Asia and that all current hemp and drug cultivars diverged from an ancestral gene pool currently represented by wild plants and landraces in China.”
(A landrace is a locally adapted, traditional variety of a plant that develops distinctive characteristics over time after isolation from other populations of the same species and the effects of agriculture.)
In their research, Dr. Ren and colleagues 110 whole cannabis genomes from around the world — including both 28 existing, publicly available genomes and 82 new ones, which the team sequenced.
Together, the team explained, these genomes span the full spectrum of wild-growing wild plants, landraces, historic cultivars and modern hybrids of both the hemp and drug strains.
By analyzing the genomes they collected, the team was able to characterize the genetic relationships between 104 different genetically unique cannabis plants.
They found that these so-called additives were clustered into four genetic groups: cannabis basal (plants from China and the US), feral drugs (from southern China, India and Pakistan), and hemp-type and drug-type (both distributed). worldwide).
In addition, the researchers concluded that the early domesticated ancestors of both the drug and hemp strains diverged from basic cannabis about 12,000 years ago.
The analysis also indicated that the closest descendants of the hemp and marijuana ancestors are the feral cannabis plants and landraces seen in China today – while the purely wild ancestors of C. sativa may now be extinct.
‘Contrary to a commonly held view, which associates cannabis with a Central Asian center for crop domestication’ […] our results are consistent with a single domestication origin of C. sativa in East Asia,” the researchers wrote.
This, they added, is “in line with early archaeological evidence.”
By analyzing the genomes they collected, the team was able to characterize the genetic relationships between 104 different genetically unique cannabis plants. They found that these so-called additives were clustered into four genetic groups: cannabis basal (plants from China and the US), feral drugs (from southern China, India and Pakistan), and hemp-type and drug-type (both distributed). global)
The team identified several genes that may have been selected for during cannabis cultivation. These include those related to branch formation, flowering timing, cannabinoid biosynthesis, and lignin potency and formation.
For example, these genes distinguish current varieties used for hemp from those used to make medicines — which, according to genetic analysis, broke up some 4,000 years ago.
Hemp varieties have been bred to be tall, unbranched, with a lot of fiber, while shorter, branched drug varieties have been selected to generate more resin with psychoactive effects.
The researchers concluded that the early domesticated ancestors of both the drug and hemp strains diverged from basic cannabis about 12,000 years ago. Pictured: A wild cannabis plant growing in the middle of a grassland in Qinghai Province, central China provincie
‘Our study’ […] provides new insights into the domestication and global distribution of a plant with diverse structural and biochemical products at a time when there is renewed interest in its use,” the researchers wrote.
This interest, they added, “reflects changing social attitudes and associated challenges to legal status in many countries.”
The study’s full findings were published in the journal scientific progress.
Despite having long been an important source of fiber and both medicinal and recreational drugs, much is unknown about the domestication history of cannabis. Pictured: Cannabis plants we see growing today in a corn field in northeastern China
DID EARLY CHRISTIANS BRING CANNABIS EXTRACTS INTO THEIR ZAVELOLIN?
Some cannabis advocates claim that early Christians, including Jesus himself, put cannabis in anointing oil used to heal the sick and the elderly.
The Hebrew version of the recipe for sacred oil in Exodus contains kaneh bosem, a mysterious herb that some believe was a cannabis extract.
Absorbed through the skin, this extract could have helped heal people with physical and mental illnesses long before the first mass-produced drugs were produced.
Historians and other experts strongly dispute the claims that Jesus and his apostles used marijuana.
Lytton John Musselman, a professor of botany at Old Dominion University, said the evidence claiming marijuana was part of the sacred anointing oil “is so weak that I wouldn’t aspire to it.”
He told vice that keneh-bosum refers to calamus rather than any psychoactive substance.
“Calamus is a very important part of Ayurvedic medicine and has been shown to be effective,” he said.
‘In Sri Lanka, for example, it is available in every herbal medicine store and is also universally grown in home gardens.
“The North American species was and is so important to Native Americans in the Northeast that land with natural populations is highly sought after.”