The Future of Breeding Cannabis: Tissue Culture Propagation

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With all the positive press about advancements in cannabis, and sales forecasts that are surging faster than publications can print, it’s hard to imagine that more explosive growth in the cannabis industry is possible. But, it is.

What is Tissue Culture Propagation?

An evolution of the science of multiplying and preserving precise copies of specific strains of cannabis for years is known as tissue culture propagation. Cannabis tissue culture propagation allows growers to create many exact copies of their original plant genetics under sterile conditions. A small piece of that cannabis plant can be preserved almost indefinitely if it is stored properly. The trimming must be placed in a container and fertilized with precise nutrients and growth-regulating chemicals. The trimming can also be preserved through a freezing process.

Unlike traditional cloning however, tissue culture allows for many more exact copies of a single starting plant (often referred to as the “mother plant”), and these offspring tend to stay healthier than explants created with traditional cloning methods. All of the tissue culture procedures are performed under sterile conditions, and a modification of the basic tissue culture process can be used to remove pathogens from desirable plant stocks. Although propagating cannabis plants via tissue culture takes longer than traditional cloning methods, the yield is much higher and as noted above, the plants tend to be healthier.

How is Cannabis Tissue Culture Propagation More Profitable?

When comparing tissue culture propagation to traditional cloning, the cost benefits are significant. The cost to clone a traditional mother plant can be expensive when we consider factors such as water amount, fertilizer, electricity, and storage space. This cost is variable based on strain quality and quantity.

However, tissue cultures require only a fraction of the maintenance and cost. These specimens do not require daily maintenance as they may be divided and transferred to a fresh medium, every 4-6 weeks. The propagation process produces thousands of plants over time, and they require a much smaller amount of growing space in a cultivation facility, so more of the available space can be dedicated to revenue producing blooming plants.

 First Movers in the Cannabis Tissue Culture Propagation Market

 Tissue culture propagation is a process that genetically replicates cannabis genotypes, and modifications in their environmental conditions can further enhance this genetic potential to produce a more potent yield. Because we believe that tissue propagation is the future of cannabis cultivation, we believe that the companies most likely to gain market share over the long-term are the ones that are investing heavily in tissue culture propagation.

Our favorite pick in the space is GB Sciences (“GB”). GB is a diverse cannabis company focused on standardized cultivation and production methods. The company reported that 100% of the mother plants in its Las Vegas cultivation facility are products of the GB tissue propagation program. The company is the first to reach this milestone.

GB is also the first cannabis company to partner with a major university to study the cannabis plant. GB won a competitive bidding process to become LSU AgCeter’s partner for the research and development of cannabis. We view the partnership as a tacit endorsement of GB’s science and technology.

Recently, the company announced yet another partnership with Wellcana Group, to develop medical cannabis in the state of Louisiana. This partnership comes with funding from Wellcana for a jointly created subsidiary.

Based on these announcements, our key take-ways are that GB is recognized as a leader in the development of tissue propagation technology, and tissue propagation is the future of cannabis production. If those assumptions turn out to be correct, then GB should be very well positioned to become a leader in the cannabis space.

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