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Who He Is? That’s Just My Baby Daddy!!!


Hello Cannabis Cactus, we’re back with more nerdy plant stuff, yay!

So far it’s been all about what’s happening outside of the plant, soil, hydroponics, bacteria, fungi, with previous articles such as “Bacillus Tenders” and “Save Your Soil, Save Your Smoke.”

I’d like to spend some time considering what’s happening INSIDE, Cannabis sativa plants. There’s a lot happening, so we’ll need to break things up into manageable bits. Some topics I have in mind include how plants grow, how plants use nutrients, how plants communicate with each other, and plant genetics.

I think a good place to start is with genetics.

Cannabis sativa, just like you and me, have genes. Some plants even have more genes than we do! But what are genes and why do we even care?

Genes are sections of DNA that contain the information needed to make proteins. When you hear scientists say, “Genes encode proteins.” That’s what they mean, DNA has the instructions needed to make proteins.

Inside cells, there are super long stretches of DNA called chromosomes. Not all of this DNA encodes proteins, just certain parts. One chromosome can encode hundreds of genes! So, if a plant has 20 chromosomes, it can easily have thousands of genes.

Why are genes important? They’re important because they contain the information needed to make proteins. This is an oversimplification, but things usually go in this order, DNA is used as a template to make RNA. 🡪RNA is used as a template to make proteins. 🡪Proteins are involved in everything happening in the cell. You may be thinking, ‘WTF does that even mean?!’ Let’s take a hypothetical example.

Let’s say a plant only has 10 genes A, B, C, D, E, F, H, I, J, K. All the cells in the plant (roots, stems, leaves, etc.) have these 10 genes in their DNA. In these different cell types, not all of these genes are allowed to make proteins. Root cells might only make protein from genes B, C, F, H, I, and K. Cells in the stem, might only make protein from genes A, B, E, F, I, K. In the cells that make up the leaves, they only make proteins from genes A, C, D, E, F, and J. The difference in proteins being made is what makes one cell different from another. Basically, DNA, in the form of chromosomes, gets passed down from one generation of plants to the next. In short, it starts from the mommy and daddy plants getting frisky! LOL!

The focus of this area of genetics is how plants inherit traits from their parents. Some plants reproduce sexually. In plants, this means that DNA (chromosomes) from two different plants comes together to make a seed, which then grows into a plant.

In nature, pollen is carried by the wind and randomly lands on female plants. Pollen from a lot of different male plants could land on the same female plant. That means the seeds being produced from the same female plant can have DNA (chromosomes) from different male plants. A female plant can basically have multiple baby daddies. Who He Is? That’s Just My Baby Daddy!

In your garden or hydroponics system, you want to control this. Ideally, you only want one male with ‘good genes’ to pollinate your female plants. This will help with having consistency in your plant breeding.

We’ll talk about what it means to have ‘good genes’ next time. Just know that understanding how cells control which genes are allowed to make protein is just as important as understanding how chromosomes, which have all the plant genes in them, are passed down.

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