Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cannabis 1st domesticated 12,000 years ago in China for textiles, recreation: study



Cannabis 1st domesticated 12,000 years ago in China for textiles, recreation: study

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
An agronomist of the Tissue Culture Laboratory touches a plant at a cannabis plantation for medicinal use. AFP

Cannabis 1st domesticated 12,000 years ago in China for textiles, recreation: study

Cannabis was first domesticated around 12,000 years ago in China, researchers found, after analysing the genomes of plants from across the world.

The study, published in the journal Science Advances on Friday, said the genomic history of cannabis domestication had been under-studied compared to other crop species, largely due to legal restrictions.

The researchers compiled 110 whole genomes covering the full spectrum of wild-growing feral plants, landraces, historical cultivars, and modern hybrids of plants used for hemp and drug purposes.

The study said it identified “the time and origin of domestication, post-domestication divergence patterns and present-day genetic diversity”.

“We show that cannabis sativa was first domesticated in early Neolithic times in East Asia and that all current hemp and drug cultivars diverged from an ancestral gene pool currently represented by feral plants and landraces in China,” it said.

Cannabis has been used for millennia for textiles and for its medicinal and recreational properties.

The evolution of the cannabis genome suggests the plant was cultivated for multipurpose use over several millennia.

The current highly-specialised hemp and drug varieties are thought to come from selective cultures initiated about 4,000 years ago, optimised for the production of fibres or cannabinoids.

The selection led to unbranched, tall hemp plants with more fibre in the main stem, and well-branched, short marijuana plants with more flowers, maximising resin production.

‘New insights’

The study was led by Luca Fumagalli of the University of Lausanne and involved scientists from Britain, China, India, Pakistan, Qatar and Switzerland.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Flowering CBD cannabis plants are seen in a greenhouse at the CBD cannabis production company Phytocann near Ollon, western Switzerland on May 19. AFP

“Our genomic dating suggests that early domesticated ancestors of hemp and drug types diverged from Basal cannabis”, around 12,000 years ago, “indicating that the species had already been domesticated by early Neolithic times”, it said.

“Contrary to a widely-accepted view, which associates cannabis with a Central Asian centre of crop domestication, our results are consistent with a single domestication origin of cannabis sativa in East Asia, in line with early archaeological evidence.”

It said that some of the wild plants currently found in China represent the closest descendants of the ancestral gene pool from which hemp and marijuana varieties have since derived.

“East Asia has been shown to be an important ancient hot spot of domestication for several crop species . . . our results thus add another line of evidence,” the study said.

The researchers said their study offered an “unprecedented” base of genomic resources for ongoing molecular breeding and functional research, both in medicine and in agriculture.

The study, they said, also “provides new insights into the domestication and global spread of a plant with divergent structural and biochemical products at a time in which there is a resurgence of interest in its use, reflecting changing social attitudes and corresponding challenges to its legal status in many countries.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Kingdom’s rice crowned world’s No1

    Cambodia’s Phka Rumduol jasmine variety has been crowned the World’s Best Rice for the fifth time at the TRT (The Rice Trader) World Rice Conference in Phuket, Thailand on November 17, according to leaders of the Kingdom’s apex rice industry body. Phka Rumduol

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • Ministry to 'seek justice' for officials indicted in US for 'monkey smuggling'

    The Cambodian government and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said they will make the “utmost effort” to seek justice for a Cambodian official arrested in John F Kennedy International Airport in New York for allegedly conspiring to smuggle crab-eating macaque monkeys (Macaca fascicularis)

  • Takeo hand-woven silk items provide local high-quality alternative to imports

    After graduating from university and beginning her career as a civil servant at the the Ministry of Economy and Finance, Khieu Sina found time to establish a business that aligns with her true passion – quality hand-woven Khmer goods. Her product line, known as Banteay Srei,