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NEW RESEARCH! Nonterpenoid Chemical Diversity of Cannabis Phenotypes Predicts Differentiated Aroma Characteristics

Updated: Jun 28

authors: Twinkle R. Paryani, Manuel E. Sosa, Michael F. Z. Page, Thomas J. Martin, Melissa V. Hearvy, Marcos A. Ojeda, Kevin A. Koby, Jonathan J. Grandy, Bradley G. Melshenker, Ian Skelly and Iain W. H. Oswald

Practical Breakdown for Cannabis Cultivators

Study Overview

The study focuses on understanding how minor, nonterpenoid compounds influence the aroma profiles of cannabis phenotypes. Researchers analyzed five phenotypes from the same genetic cross to identify which compounds contribute to their unique scents. They used advanced chemical analysis techniques and correlated the findings with human sensory data.

Key Findings

  1. Nonterpenoid Compounds Matter: While terpenes are often emphasized in aroma profiling, the study found that minor, nonterpenoid compounds play a significant role in differentiating cannabis aromas.

  2. Specific Compounds Identified: Key compounds like 3-mercaptohexyl hexanoate were identified as major contributors to unique citrus and tropical scents. Fatty acids like octanoic and decanoic acids were linked to cheese-like aromas.

  3. Genetic Similarity and Aroma Diversity: Even genetically similar phenotypes can produce distinct aromas due to variations in these minor compounds.

Implications for Cultivators

  1. Enhanced Breeding Practices:

  • Focus Beyond Terpenes: When breeding for specific aromas, consider the role of minor compounds. Detailed chemical analysis can reveal important contributors to scent that aren't captured by terpene profiles alone.

  • Use Comprehensive Analysis: Invest in advanced analytical techniques like GC × GC coupled with ToF-MS to get a full picture of the volatile compounds in your plants.

  1. Phenohunting:

  • Select for Minor Compounds: During phenohunting, don't rely solely on visual traits or major terpene profiles. Use chemical data to identify plants with desirable nonterpenoid compounds.

  • Sensory Validation: Combine chemical analysis with sensory panels to validate the aromatic qualities of phenotypes, ensuring that selected traits align with consumer preferences.

  1. Cultivation Environment:

  • Consistent Growing Conditions: Maintain consistent cultivation and processing methods to ensure that observed differences in aroma are due to genetic factors, not environmental variability.

  1. Product Differentiation:

  • Unique Selling Points: Highlight the presence of specific minor compounds in your marketing to differentiate your products. Consumers may be drawn to unique aromas driven by these compounds.

  • Education and Transparency: Educate consumers about the role of nonterpenoid compounds in aroma to enhance appreciation and demand for your differentiated products.

Steps for Implementation

  1. Invest in Analytical Tools: Equip your lab with advanced tools for comprehensive chemical analysis.

  2. Train Your Team: Educate your breeding and cultivation team on the importance of minor compounds and how to use chemical analysis data in phenohunting.

  3. Develop Sensory Panels: Create a sensory analysis protocol to validate chemical findings with human perception.

  4. Document and Share Findings: Keep detailed records of chemical profiles and sensory evaluations. Use this data to refine breeding strategies and share insights with the wider cultivation community.

By focusing on these minor, yet impactful, compounds, cultivators can enhance the aromatic qualities of their cannabis strains, leading to more distinct and desirable products in the market.

Download the full study here:

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