Characterization of the Cannabis sativa glandular trichome proteome

PLoS One. 2021 Apr 1;16(4):e0242633. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0242633. eCollection 2021.


Cannabis sativa has been cultivated since antiquity as a source of fibre, food and medicine. The recent resurgence of C. sativa as a cash crop is mainly driven by the medicinal and therapeutic properties of its resin, which contains compounds that interact with the human endocannabinoid system. Compared to other medicinal crops of similar value, however, little is known about the biology of C. sativa. Glandular trichomes are small hair-like projections made up of stalk and head tissue and are responsible for the production of the resin in C. sativa. Trichome productivity, as determined by C. sativa resin yield and composition, is only beginning to be understood at the molecular level. In this study the proteomes of glandular trichome stalks and heads, were investigated and compared to the proteome of the whole flower tissue, to help further elucidate C. sativa glandular trichome biochemistry. The data suggested that the floral tissue acts as a major source of carbon and energy to the glandular trichome head sink tissue, supplying sugars which drive secondary metabolite biosynthesis. The trichome stalk seems to play only a limited role in secondary metabolism and acts as both source and sink.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cannabis / chemistry
  • Cannabis / metabolism*
  • Flowers / metabolism
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning / methods
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism*
  • Proteome / metabolism*
  • Secondary Metabolism
  • Trichomes / chemistry
  • Trichomes / metabolism*


  • Plant Proteins
  • Proteome

Grant support

This work was co-funded by Cann Group LTD and Southern Cross University. first author LJK received a partial stipend from the commercial entity Cann Group Limited. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.