An Israeli startup is planning to sell stable, better-performing cannabis seeds to growers globally, using licensed CRISPR-Cas9 tech to create uniform and disease-resistant plants.
CanBreed has said it has reached a licensing agreement to use gene editing tools to provide cannabis growers with enhanced seeds for the production of medical grade cannabis.
The Givat Chen, Israel-based firm, founded in 2017 by Ido Margalit and Tal Sherman, has received a nonexclusive intellectual property licensing agreement to use CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology from Corteva Agriscience and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, which hold the rights to the technology.
The company says it has developed “stable” cannabis seeds that will allow farmers to grow cannabis from seeds as opposed to cloning, as it is done now, from branches of the plant that are rooted.
“The cloning of the branches help maintain the uniformity of DNA of the weed,” but as the plant grows, the genes could be expressed differently from those of the mother plant, explained CEO Margalit.
According to the CEO, since cannabis is a medical plant, standardization and uniformity are required, and “using clones does not serve that purpose.” He added that, “he only solution to that is growing cannabis from stable seeds.”
CanBreed has been able to create stable cannabis seeds by inbreeding the plant with itself, Margalit explained. “But just having stable seeds is not enough,” he added.
“What the grower has to see are agronomical traits to ensure that they will have the most and highest quality harvest, so they like to see resistance traits in their products, that the plant can be adapted for a certain growth environment. None of those traits exist in cannabis.”
The company expects its stable seeds to be ready for sale by mid-2021, and also expects its first traits to be introduced by the end of 2021.
“We want to be world leaders in using CRISPR technology for cannabis,” continued Margalit. “The idea is to sell stable enhanced cannabis seeds to the entire global market.”