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Red light receptor activation: a cause of unwanted hermaphroditism? 

In the final article of this three-part series, Dr Gary Yates, chief scientific officer at PharmaSeeds, discusses red light and near-infrared photoreceptors in cannabis cultivation. 

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Red light receptor activation: a cause of unwanted hermaphroditism? 
Home » News » Production » Red light receptor activation: a cause of unwanted hermaphroditism? 

Much has been written about the intelligence of plants. As far back as the 19th century, German chemist Justus Von Leibig remarked that “Plants search for food as if they had eyes”.  Notably, plants can detect the quality, quantity and direction of light – and light is crucial. 

This should certainly be considered when troubleshooting the problem of intermittent hermaphroditism.

A major consideration to the cannabis cultivation world is the use of grow room cameras for monitoring or security. Whether or not security cameras emit enough photons at the right wavelength to interfere with a plants photo-perception is not something this article lays claim to, however the question was put to me and in this context, it allows for a wider discussion on red light and near-infrared photoreceptors – the phytochromes.

Read part one: Cannabis cultivation – the additional lighting paradox

The table below illustrates the wavelength of light which may act upon the numerous photoreceptors found in plants. The photoreceptor known as Phytochrome-B (PhyB) detects light from the red and far-red spectrum.

PhyB activation has been proven under experimental conditions to be a necessary trigger for various processes, including flowering, photoblasty, and other biological pathways. The use of certain cameras in the plant’s environment must therefore be carefully considered, as detection of light during the dark phase is a cause of unplanned hermaphroditism.

Ouzounis et al 2015. Table showing the wavelength of visible light, PAR and the photoreceptors in plants and the wavelength that acts upon them.

How does this work?

QUALITY

PhyB optimally absorbs light between 650-750nm, although some activation may occur up to 790nm. 

PhyB can reversibly switch between red (Pr) and near-infrared (Pfr) perception and this switch allows interaction/disassociation with PIFs (Phytochrome Interacting Factors – these are transcription factors that control the regulation of other genes, amongst other things). Pr to Pfr conversion induces morphogenetic changes which are undone by Pfr to Pr conversion (Salome et al., 2002). 

Read part two: Cannabis cultivation – the artificial lighting minefield

Moreover this re-configuration allowing the capture of red vs near-infrared can happen within seconds, can occur hundreds of times, and shows no signs of toxicity to the cell or drop in efficiency (Levskaya et al., 2009). 

The activation of PIFs can cause flowering responses, interfere with circadian signalling and may even have a role in immunity. It is therefore recommended that unwanted red light receptor activation is avoided and security camera infrared output is reviewed, and ideally, light emission should be above 800nm.

QUANTITY 

Plants can detect very low levels of light, but light intensity correlates with the number of photoreceptors activated, therefore very low output/low intensity can have minimal to no effect on the plants.

As the distance between the plant and the light source correlates with intensity, it is advised that, in addition to the camera’s output, we also ensure the distance from the camera to the plants is as great (far) as possible. 

In addition, should the camera use multiple infrared LEDs, try to adjust these, or alternatively, find a brand of camera which can be adjusted, or emits light above 800nm.

Cautious Tips: Check your cameras, Check your genetics, Move your cameras/shield your plants. 

Dr Gary Yates
Chief scientific officer
PharmaSeeds

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Biologists identify “hacks” cannabis uses to make cannabinoids

The research provides insight into how trichomes create high quantities of cannabinoids without the plant poisoning itself. 

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Biologists identify “hacks” cannabis uses to make cannabinoids
Home » News » Production » Red light receptor activation: a cause of unwanted hermaphroditism? 

Previously, it was unknown how cannabis naturally creates high quantities of cannabinoids and terpenes. Now, new research from biologists at the University of British Colombia has defined the “high efficiency” hacks that the plant’s cells use to do this.

A number of biotechnology companies are now using yeast or cell cultures to create synthetic cannabinoids. The process allows for the mass production of cannabinoids to create a high volume of products in order to keep up with consumer demand.

In a new study, published in the journal Current Biology, plant biologists uncovered the microenvironments in which THC is produced and transported in cannabis trichomes, shedding light on several critical points in the pathway of making THC or CBD within the cell.

Read more: New research could help cultivators control THC and CBD levels in crops

University of British Columbia botanist who led the research, Dr Sam Livingston, commented” “This really helps us understand how the cells in cannabis trichomes can pump out massive quantities of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and terpenes—compounds that are toxic to the plant cells at high quantities – without poisoning itself.

“This new model can inform synthetic biology approaches for cannabinoid production in yeast, which is used routinely in biotechnology. 

“Without these ‘tricks’ they’ll never get efficient production.”

Read more: Exploring cannabis yield optimisation with PharmaSeeds

Livingston, along with co-author Dr Lacey Samuels, used rapid freezing of cannabis glandular trichomes to immobilise the plant’s cellular structures and the metabolites in situ. 

This enabled them to investigate cannabis glandular trichomes using electron microscopes that revealed cell structure at the nano level, showing that the metabolically active cells in cannabis form a “supercell” that acts as a tiny metabolic biofactory.

Until now, synthetic biology approaches have focused on optimising the enzymes responsible for making THC and CBD – like building a factory with the most efficient machinery to make as much product as possible. However, these approaches haven’t developed an efficient way to move intermediate substances from one enzyme to another, or from inside the cell to the outside of the cell where final products can be collected. 

This research helps to define the subcellular “shipping routes” that cannabis uses to create an efficient pipeline from raw materials to end products without accumulating toxins or waste products.

Dr Samuels stated: “For more than 40 years, everything that we thought about cannabis cells was inaccurate because it was based on dated electron microscopy.”

“This work defines how cannabis cells make their product. It’s a paradigm shift after many years, producing a new view of cannabinoid production. This work has been challenging, partly the result of legal prohibition and also due to the fact that no protocol for the genetic transformation of cannabis has been published.”

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New partnership to commercialise synthetic THCV and rare cannabinoids

Open Book Extracts has partnered with developers of a proprietary chemical synthesis platform that produces ultra-pure, high quality, sustainable cannabinoids, Nalu Bio.

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New partnership to commercialise synthetic THCV and rare cannabinoids

Open Book Extracts (OBX) has entered into a research, development and commercialisation partnership with Nalu Bio.

The partnership will allow Nalu Bio to advance its THCV production method from research and development to commercial-scale manufacturing using its proprietary and scalable synthesis platform. 

With a 76,000 sf. NSF- and ISO 9001-certified research and production facility near Durham, North Carolina, OBX and Nalu Bio plan to begin initial production of THCV in September 2022 with market-ready compounds available before the end of the year.

Read more: Open Book Extracts joins EIHA to gain novel food status in Europe

CTO of Nalu Bio, Matthew Roberts, commented: “Our THCV is produced in highly scalable reactors at factory-scale, using low-cost, safe and effective starting materials. Nalu Bio and OBX are both innovators in their respective fields, and this partnership is mutually beneficial for two industry leaders.

“Nalu Bio prides itself on partnering excellence, and we’re excited to deliver high-quality, safe, and low-cost cannabinoid ingredients and products to the market.”

Read more: Collaboration to conduct research to support the cannabis industry

Nalu Bio’s vision for the synthesis and cost-effective mass production of cannabinoids mimics the history of aspirin – the therapeutic value of aspirin for pain relief was discovered, and while initially derived from willow bark, it is now mass produced at factory-scale with higher quality and dosage consistency, which has benefited billions of consumers worldwide as it has become the most commonly used drug in the world. 

THCV will be the first cannabinoid available at commercial scale through this partnership, allowing OBX and Nalu Bio to offer the highest quality, most consistent dosage of THCV.

Both OBX and Nalu Bio envision a range of additional cannabinoids to be released through this partnership,including a broad range of cannabinoids from hemp and natural sources, such as CBD, CBN, CBC, CBG, CBT, CBDa, CBGa, CBDV, and THCV.

OBX CEO, Dave Neundorfer, commented: “I am excited about the value Nalu Bio and OBX will bring to the cannabinoid therapeutics market. This partnership is well-positioned to meet the needs of the growing synthetic cannabinoid market and deliver potentially life-changing products to consumers worldwide.”

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Greece welcomes first medical cannabis plants from Israel

Mother plants have arrived in Greece, marking the beginning of production for Tikun Europe.

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Greece welcomes first medical cannabis plants from Israel
Home » News » Production » Red light receptor activation: a cause of unwanted hermaphroditism? 

Tikun Europe has welcomed the first mother plants from Israel and will now begin cultivation in the company’s facility at Korinthos, Greece. 

Transportation of the plants was carried out by Skyserv Ground Handling Services. The shipment of the plants was made in specially designed containers under controlled environment ensuring the best possible conditions throughout the transportation from Israel to their final destination. 

Cultivation will take place in Tikun Europe’s vertically integrated greenhouse unit, with an area of 21,000 m 2 and it anticipates an annual production capacity of 10 tonnes of dry flower.

Read more: Tikun receives licence to begin operations in Greek facility

CEO of Tikun Europe, Nikos Beis, said: “We welcome the first mother plants to our facilities in Greece. Their arrival marks the beginning of production at the factory in Korinthos, which takes us one step closer to the realisation of our commitment. 

“Our factory, being the largest pharmaceutical facility in its industry in Europe, is committed to creating innovative, high-quality medical cannabis products. 

“A new era is beginning for our country with the operation of our Tikun Europe facility, paving the way for Greece to become one of the main players in the field of production and export of medical cannabis products.”

Greece welcomes first medical cannabis plants from Israel

The plants will be used for propagation under strict protocols that will ensure the preservation of the unique characteristics of the mother plants to the future generations. The facility is expected to reach its full capacity levels gradually in the near future, to deliver a wide variety of finished medical cannabis dosage forms.

The company’s greenhouse and production units are designed to comply with the GACP/EU-GMP standards, and it holds all the necessary licenses and certifications in order for its operation.

COO and vice president of the board of Tikun Europe, Dimitris Giannopoulos, stated: “After completing the construction of our production facility in Korinthos, today signifies another important milestone, that brings us one step closer to the beginning of cultivation of medical cannabis plants in the country. 

“The main challenge and opportunity now become the development and production of a complete portfolio of high quality finished medical cannabis products to meet the needs of patients in Greece and in Europe”.

Commercial director of Skyserv Ground Handling Services, Martha Georgila, stated: “We are very happy that Tikun Europe trusted Skyserv to implement the first transport of mother plants in Greece. 

“Following all transportation protocols for that type of merchandises, along with the specific storage conditions that were required during their stay at the airport area, we managed to keep them intact until their departure to the company’s factory in Korinthos.”

Greece welcomes first medical cannabis plants from Israel

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