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Collaboration to Advance Marker Discovery and Genotyping in Cannabis

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Arbor Biosciences has announced a partnership with Medicinal Genomics Corp. (MGC), a company specializing in genomics that improves the yield, safety, and transparency of cannabis, to introduce a new genotyping panel for cannabis. Together, the organizations will use their extensive resources for genetic testing to create a cannabis genome knowledge bank, to generate a comprehensive panel for analyzing unique genetic signatures in cannabis strains.  

Building upon their updated reference genome of the Jamaican Lion cultivar, and a recently announced pan-genome project with PacBio, MGC has identified the genetic variations that cause a plant to produce the important cannabinoids of THC, CBD, and their combinations, referred to as chemotypes (I-IV). This information provides a genetic fingerprint for different types and cultivars, and is a key to selective breeding of cannabis. 

Using markers identified by MGC, Arbor has designed and developed a hybridization-based capture panel for targeted NGS sequencing. The myBaits-based panel utilizes proprietary software to design unique probes that are complementary to the genetic sequences of interest, which are then reproduced on Arbor’s massively parallel synthesis platform. The system provides an efficient and cost-effective process for sequencing only the genomic regions of interest. 

MGC will incorporate the new myBaits-based panel into their StrainSEEK identification and registration service. The StrainSEEK assay sequences more than 3.3 million bases (Mb) across more than a thousand high-value targets, including 30 cannabinoid and terpene synthase genes as well as several genes for seed production and sex determination. Also included in the assay are 20,000 SNPs that can be used to create high-density SNP maps for marker-assisted breeding.

The jointly developed panel will be co-branded under the myBaits product portfolio and available through both organizations based on specific use cases. MGC will support cannabis breeders globally as they work to develop and register new strains of cannabis for the recreational and medicinal markets. Arbor Biosciences will focus on serving what is traditionally labeled as hemp and incorporated into a variety of products, including textiles, foods, and building materials. Both organizations will provide sequencing services to their clients using DNA as a starting material and delivering data specific to the intended application.