Introduction: Understanding the inheritance of cannabinoid compounds in Cannabis sativa will facilitate effective crop breeding and careful regulation of controlled substances. The production of two key cannabinoids, Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), is partially controlled by two additive loci. Here, we present the first study to search for evidence of alternate genetic models describing the inheritance and expression of cannabinoids. Materials and Methods: Using an information-theoretic approach, we estimated composite genetic effects (CGEs) of four cultivars with pure CBD or pure THC chemotypes, their F1 and F2 hybrid progeny, to identify genetic models that explain cannabinoid inheritance patterns. We also estimated the effective number of genetic factors that control differences in cannabinoid concentration (THC, CBD, and cannabichromene [CBC]). Results: Unlike previous research, we note nonadditive components of cannabinoid inheritance. Concentration of THC is a polygenic trait (three to four genetic factors). Both additive and dominance CGEs best explained THC expression patterns. In contrast, cytoplasmic genomes and additive genes may influence CBD concentration. Maternal additive effects and additive genetic effects apparently influence CBC expression. Conclusions: Cannabinoid inheritance is more complex than previously appreciated; among other genetic effects, cytogenetic and maternal contributions may be undervalued influences on cannabinoid ratios and concentrations. Further research on the environmental sensitivity of cannabinoid production is advised.
Copyright 2020, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.