Arbor Biosciences, Medicinal Genomics Partner on Marker Discovery and Genotyping in Cannabis

Arbor Biosciences, a division of Chiral Technologies, Inc. and worldwide leader in next generation sequencing (NGS) target enrichment, today announced a partnership with Medicinal Genomics Corp. (MGC), a pioneer in genomics that improves the yield, safety, and transparency of cannabis, to introduce a new genotyping panel for cannabis. 

Sep 11, 2019
Arbor Biosciences

Together the organizations will use their extensive resources for genetic testing and to create a cannabis genome knowledge bank to generate a comprehensive panel for analyzing unique genetic signatures in cannabis strains.  

Building upon their updated reference genome of the Jamaican Lion cultivar, and a recently announced pan-genome project with PacBio, MGC has identified the genetic variations that cause a plant to produce the important cannabinoids of THC, CBD, and their combinations, referred to as chemotypes (I-IV). This information provides a genetic fingerprint for different types and cultivars, and is a key to selective breeding of cannabis. 

Using markers identified by MGC, Arbor has designed and developed a hybridization-based capture panel for targeted NGS sequencing. The myBaits®-based panel utilizes proprietary software to design unique probes that are complementary to the genetic sequences of interest, which are then reproduced on Arbor’s massively parallel synthesis platform. The system provides an extremely efficient and cost-effective process for sequencing only the genomic regions of interest. 

MGC will incorporate the new myBaits-based panel into their StrainSEEK identification and registration service. The StrainSEEK assay sequences more than 3.3 million bases (Mb) across more than a thousand high-value targets, including 30 cannabinoid and terpene synthase genes as well as several genes for seed production and sex determination. Also included in the assay are 20,000 SNPs that can be used to create high-density SNP maps for marker-assisted breeding.

“With the passage of the Farm Bill, Universities across the country can now study cannabis. Our partnership with Arbor allows us to bring the picks and shovels to those researchers looking to hit the ground running. The Arbor sequencing panel has been updated to include the recently discovered Terpene Synthase genes and the Edestin genes responsible for seed protein expression. This means 20,000 genome-wide SNPs with baits in over 1000 genes can now be readily captured, sequenced and compared to hundreds of samples in Kannapedia.net. Great tools for their customers and ours. We couldn’t be more pleased to be working with them,” said Kevin McKernan, Chief Scientific Officer at Medicinal Genomics.

The jointly developed panel will be co-branded under the myBaits product portfolio and available through both organizations based on specific use cases. MGC will support cannabis breeders globally as they work to develop and register new strains of cannabis for the recreational and medicinal markets. Arbor Biosciences will focus on serving what is traditionally labeled as hemp and incorporated into a variety of products, including textiles, foods, and building materials. Both organizations will provide sequencing services to their clients using DNA as a starting material and delivering data specific to the intended application. 

“We are excited to partner with MGC and expand our genomics portfolio to include cannabis.” stated Alison Devault, Director of Genomics at Arbor Biosciences. “Whether clients prefer to process samples in their own lab or use our myReads® services, we are proud to offer this critical tool to the cannabis research community.”

MGC and Arbor Biosciences will officially launch the myBaits MGC Cannabis Panel for preorders at the annual CannMed Conference being held in Pasadena, CA from September 23-24, 2019. CannMed is the premier conference focused on understanding the complex science of cannabis and its medical benefits for patients