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Genomic characterization of the complete terpene synthase gene family from Cannabis sativa

by Keith D. Allen, Kevin McKernan, Christopher Pauli, Jim Roe, Anthony Torres, Reggie Gaudino

Terpenes are responsible for most or all of the odor and flavor properties of Cannabis sativa, and may also impact effects users experience either directly or indirectly. We report the diversity of terpene profiles across samples bound for the Washington dispensary market. The remarkable degree of variation in terpene profiles ultimately results from action of a family of terpene synthase genes, only some of which have been described. Using a recently available genome assembly we describe 55 terpene synthases with genomic context, and tissue specific expression. The family is quite diverse from a protein similarity perspective, and subsets of the family are expressed in all tissues in the plant, including a set of root specific monoterpene synthases that could well have agronomic importance. Ultimately understanding and breeding for specific terpene profiles will require a good understanding of the gene family that underlies it. We intend for this work to serve as a foundation for that.

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