Australian researchers launch cannabis nutritional quality project to boost market

Southern Cross University has received funding for “The New Crop in the Mass: Genetic Control of Hemp Seed Nutrition Quality” from the Australian Research Council.

The project will be led by Associate Professor Tobias Kretzschmar, a world expert in plant breeding and genetics. His team will work in conjunction with industry partner Kavasil Pty Ltd, a regional cannabis research and development (R&D) and consulting firm based in Nimbin in NSW Northern Rivers.

While hemp seeds, rich in polyunsaturated oils and high-quality protein, are emerging as a functional food crop globally, very little is known about the genetic control of oil and protein contents and composition, which are important characteristics for improving the yield and quality of hemp seeds for the Australian industry.

“The project will include characterization of cannabis germplasm for seed quality traits, including seed size and nutritional composition,” Associate Professor Kretzschmar said.

“Importantly, we will correlate genotypes (genetic makeup) with phenotypes (visible or chemical characteristics/traits) through quantitative genetic methods. This will help improve cannabis seed varieties for future Australian requirements.”

A unique genetic resource of 120 cannabis diverse inputs (varieties), consisting of globally sourced genetic assets and inputs provided by Kavasil, will be used to identify the genes underlying nutritional variance and genotype-related interactions by environment.

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