Profiling Cannabinoid Contents and Expression Levels of Corresponding Biosynthetic Genes in Commercial Cannabis ( Cannabis sativa L.) Cultivars

Plants (Basel). 2022 Nov 14;11(22):3088. doi: 10.3390/plants11223088.


Cannabis (Cannabis sativa L.) is widely cultivated and studied for its psychoactive and medicinal properties. As the major cannabinoids are present in acidic forms in Cannabis plants, non-enzymatic processes, such as decarboxylation, are crucial for their conversion to neutral active cannabinoid forms. Herein, we detected the levels of cannabidivarin (CBDV), cannabidiol (CBD), cannabichromene (CBC), and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) in the leaves and vegetative shoots of five commercial Cannabis cultivars using a combination of relatively simple extraction, decarboxylation, and high-performance liquid chromatography analyses. The CBDV, CBC, and Δ9-THC levels were 6.3-114.9, 34.4-187.2, and 57.6-407.4 μg/g, respectively, and the CBD levels were the highest, ranging between 1.2-8.9 μg/g in leaf and vegetative shoot tissues of Cannabis cultivars. Additionally, correlations were observed between cannabinoid accumulation and transcription levels of genes encoding key enzymes for cannabinoid biosynthesis, including CsCBGAS, CsCBDAS, CsCBCAS, and CsTHCAS. These data suggest that the high accumulation of cannabinoids, such as CBC, Δ9-THC, and CBD, might be derived from the transcriptional regulation of CsCBGAS and CsCBDAS in Cannabis plants.

Keywords: Cannabis; cannabichromene; cannabidiol; high-performance liquid chromatography; tetrahydrocannabinol.