When it comes to successful cannabis growing and buying the best marijuana seeds, one concept keeps coming up: genetics. All of a cannabis plant’s traits, flavours, and effects are stored in the genes of the strain. But what exactly is cannabis genetics, and what are the basics that any cannabis grower and aficionado ought to understand? Read this blog to find out!
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What Do We Mean By Cannabis Genetics?
Let’s start at the beginning. The words ‘genetics’ and ‘gene’ originate from the Greek word genos or γένος. It can be translated as ‘generation’ or ‘lineage’. Genetics is the branch of science dedicated to the study of genes. Genes are a kind of biological code describing all the characteristics of a certain individual; in this case, a cannabis plant. Of course, this code is not written with pen and ink. Instead it uses a specific genetic code consisting of DNA.
DNA (desoxyribonucleic acid) in turn is a very long protein molecule found in the nuclei of all animal and plant cells. If unused, DNA lies ‘curled up’ in its characteristic double helix shape you’ve probably seen before. In fact, the Amsterdam Genetics logo is based on this double helix structure – and with good reason, too. Ultimately, premium cannabis depends 100% on the quality of the DNA contained in the plant’s genetics!
The Purpose Of Cannabis Genetics
In a very real sense, cannabis genetics is much like a recipe. The code inscribed in DNA dictates the properties of an individual plant. These properties include things like leaf shape, flavour, the ratios of aromatic terpenes and active cannabinoids produced by the plant, flowering times, height, and many other aspects. The size of the flower buds, and consequently the resulting harvest, largely depends on the genetics that a cannabis plant carries inside.
Whenever plants or animals reproduce, they pass their DNA on to the next generation. This explains why the offspring of marijuana plants resemble their parents. Cannabis is a dioecious plant, which means that a male specimen has to fertilize a female plant by means of pollination in order to produce seeds that grow into new plants.
There are two exceptions to this rule: cannabis can be cloned artificially, and hermaphrodite plants are capable of fertilizing themselves. In regular circumstances, however, the genes of the mother plant are mixed with those of the father, making every new generation a unique combination of the parents’ genetics. This makes genetics the basic mechanism that keeps cannabis plants evolving.
Seeds, Strains, And Genetics: Cannabis Sativa L.
Even though the exact genetics of every individual are unique, all these individuals together make up a collective (animal or plant) species with highly similar DNA. The genetics found in today’s cannabis seeds represent an evolutionary process that has been going on for millions of years. That means millions upon millions of mother and father plants have combined their genetics to produce ever more different offspring. In recent decades, this process was sped up substantially by crossbreeding strains for properties such as more THC, special flavours, or autoflower properties.
Although there are thousands of strains out there, all of these varieties ultimately fall under one single species: Cannabis sativa L. At least, this is the position of most scientists agree on. Cannabis indica and Cannabis ruderalis strains are regarded as distinct varieties, but from a biology perspective, they are all the same species with highly similar genetics. So regardless of whether you order an autoflower strain, indica seeds, or sativa genetics; technically speaking, it’s all good old Cannabis sativa L.
Phenotype & Genotype
In the world of cannabis seeds, you’ll often come across the word ‘phenotype’, or its abbreviation ‘pheno’. Examples include claims that several plants of a given strain X grew into different phenotypes. Actually, when we say phenotype, we mean the entire outward appearance and ‘behaviour’ of the plant. To be more specific, a phenotype is the way in which the genetic properties of a given plant (its ‘genotype’) are expressed. Different phenotypes may, for instance, express themselves as plants with more/fewer or larger/smaller leaves, different heights, or even variations in the colours of the cola buds.
As a rule, all plants of any given strain have the same genotype: the sum total of all the genes in their unique DNA. And yet, this genotype can be expressed in various phenotypes. This is determined by environmental factors (including differences in nutrients, temperatures, or soil types).Whenever the environment is the cause, we touch upon the famous ‘nature vs. nurture’ dichotomy. Nature provides the ‘blueprint’ of the cannabis genetics, whereas the environment (i.e., weather, soil, grower, etc.) supplies the ‘nurture’ part, or, in other words, the ‘upbringing’ of the plant.
As growers, then, we provide a personal dose of nurture full of loving care and attention, while we count on Amsterdam Genetics for the finest touch of nature: premium cannabis genetics!
DNA, Cell Division, And New Strains
We have seen how every cannabis strain is uniquely different, due to the singular genetics carried within each and every cell. Once a cannabis seed germinates, the plant starts to grow, driven by a process in which cells replicate by means of cell division. Cells can split in two, copying their DNA in the process, by which two new cells come into being; each with the exact same DNA on board. These two cells then divide into four, and then eight; and so on until you’re looking at an entire cannabis plant bristling with shiny buds – a true miracle of nature.
Leaving mutations aside for now (which usually result from copying errors during cell division) all cells of a cannabis seed or plant share the exact same genetics. All the marijuana seeds and plant within a single strain also share nearly 100% identical DNA in their cells. This is why for instance, all Super Silver Haze grows are alike. If you are looking for variety instead, don’t worry: our expert geneticists are working around the clock to develop new new strains from crossbreeds between our own strains and other cannabis genetics from all over the world!
Another concept that’s hard to miss when looking for cannabis seeds: hybrid strains. Even though the notion of hybrid strains includes a long-standing debate on the differences between sativa and indica strains, among other topics, hybridity is actually very simple when it comes to cannabis genetics.
Hybrid strains are basically all cannabis variants that contain genetics from both indica and sativa type plants. Strictly speaking, any strain with added ruderalis genes is a hybrid too. But how do you know what constitutes a sativa or an indica plant? The short and simple answer to this question is: just assume any strain you order online contains a bit of both.
All the crossbreeding of recent decades makes it extremely unlikely to run into ‘pure’ indica or sativa plants, even though rumour has it they still exist. This would involve either super-rare mother plants kept in a stasis-like condition for years, safely locked away in secret grow rooms. Or you’re dealing with so-called landrace strains: primal forms of feral cannabis, carrying genetics unaffected by humankind’s eager fingers.
Nonetheless, it is safe to assume that any marijuana seeds you can buy online are hybrid strains. These are usually labelled sativa dominant or indica dominant, except when you happen to find a perfectly balanced strain with 50% of either kind.
Getting To Work With The Finest Cannabis Genetics
When it comes to superb genes, you’ve sure hit the sweet spot with the Amsterdam Genetics seeds collection. Our experts have spent the last 25 years dedicating al of their passion and expertise to developing ever better strains. Of course, we direct our efforts at creating the best effects and the most delicious flavours and scents, as well as robust, stable genetics that can take a bit of a beating.
No matter whether you’re looking for an easy-growing autoflower, a sturdy sativa hybrid, or an intense indica-dominant strain, we always have the right premium cannabis genetics ready to order online. That’s what you get when quality is in your genes like we do here at Amsterdam Genetics!