Cannabis Tissue Culture

Liz Filmer
04 Apr 2023

Plant tissue culture has been used in agriculture for nearly 40 years to produce uniform, disease-free stock. However, with cannabis, this technology has only emerged. 

Cannabis tissue culture is a new path towards preserving genetics. Unlike humans, plants do not have an awareness of their entire bodies. They are a colony of cells that are attached. Therefore, if a stem receives all the like sap, it would be getting; it is unaware if it is attached to the plant. Tissue culture allows you to grow plants in a way you cannot do outside. You can develop a dissection of just a leaf or just a stem… you can break the rules of typical plant growing.

To start, clone stems are broken down to the cellular level into one part, the meristem, a tissue that houses stem cells from which all other types of plant cells develop. With tissue culture, You’re eliminating all the genetic issues that may relate to the environmental stresses of where the plant would typically grow. You’re stripping the plant back to its pure genetics and removing all the vascular tissue ending up with a pristine example and sample of a cannabis plant that can be grown into tissue culture free of any other influences.

When reduced to the meristem, the clones are only about 0.5mm to 1mm. Once the plants grow bigger and look like cannabis plants, they are tested for HLVd, a widespread pathogen that causes growth stunting and reduces the plant’s ability to produce trichomes. HLVd can attack one part of the plant but not another. Tissue culture has become a valuable tool in combating the virus by reducing the plant to its fundamental elements.

After the cloned plants have undergone an extensive screening process, they are grown until they are about 3 to 4 inches. They can be kept within a genetic library to preserve cultivars to serve as an additional backup inc case a disaster like a fire wipes out any precious genetics in plant or seed form. 

The future of the tissue culture industry is not about trying to create a million plants to order but instead about holding genetics and delivering mother plants that growers can multiply through traditional propagation. The process of tissue culture clones is an exciting new frontier for cannabis that may allow for high-quality pure breeding without any tainting by disease or pathogens.

Liz Filmer