The Center for Disease Control estimates 128,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized annually due to food borne illnesses. This has created a demand for food safety testing targeting the detection of pathogenic mold and bacteria on agricultural products. This risk extends to medical Cannabis and is of particular concern with inhaled, vaporized and even concentrated Cannabis products . As a result, third party microbial testing has become a regulatory requirement in the medical and recreational Cannabis markets, yet knowledge of the Cannabis microbiome is limited. Here we describe the first next generation sequencing survey of the fungal communities found in dispensary based Cannabis flowers by ITS2 sequencing, and demonstrate the sensitive detection of several toxigenic Penicillium and Aspergillus species, including P. citrinum and P. paxilli, that were not detected by one or more culture-based methods currently in use for safety testing.
Keywords: Cannabidiol; Cannabis; Citrinin; Culture; Microbiome; Mycotoxins; Next generation sequencing; Paxilline; qPCR.