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PLoS One. 2019 Sep 12;14(9):e0222363. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0222363. eCollection 2019.

Genomic characterization of the complete terpene synthase gene family from Cannabis sativa.

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Steep Hill Labs, Berkeley, California, United States of America.
Medicinal Genomics, Woburn, Massachusetts, United States of America.


Terpenes are responsible for most or all of the odor and flavor properties of Cannabis sativa, and may also impact effects users experience either directly or indirectly. We report the diversity of terpene profiles across samples bound for the Washington dispensary market. The remarkable degree of variation in terpene profiles ultimately results from action of a family of terpene synthase genes, only some of which have been described. Using a recently available genome assembly we describe 55 terpene synthases with genomic context, and tissue specific expression. The family is quite diverse from a protein similarity perspective, and subsets of the family are expressed in all tissues in the plant, including a set of root specific monoterpene synthases that could well have agronomic importance. Ultimately understanding and breeding for specific terpene profiles will require a good understanding of the gene family that underlies it. We intend for this work to serve as a foundation for that.

Conflict of interest statement

I have read the journal's policy and the authors of this manuscript have the following competing interests: RG is a member of the boards for PDX, Biomedcan and Rylies Smile Foundation and the advisory board for the California Cannabis Industry Association, was given an honorarium for speaking at the Cannabis Science Conference East, 2019, and has a personal relationship with Greg Copenhaver, Editor-in-Chief for PLoS Genetics. KJM owns stock on Medicinal Genomics, a Cannabis DNA sequencing and Cannabis microbial focused company. KDA, CP, JR and AT declare no competing interests.This does not alter our adherence to PLOS ONE policies on sharing data and materials.

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