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Cannabis is now legalized in several countries around the world and scientific research on this crop is slowly beginning. However, industrial producers of cannabis are still struggling to recover significant investments made into the infrastructure required for legal cannabis production. Providing scientific ...

Cannabis is now legalized in several countries around the world and scientific research on this crop is slowly beginning. However, industrial producers of cannabis are still struggling to recover significant investments made into the infrastructure required for legal cannabis production. Providing scientific data that supports improved cultivation efficiency and increased flower and cannabinoid yields is essential for the survival of these businesses and the growth of this industry. In addition, the effects and potential of cannabis-based pharmaceuticals are only beginning to be uncovered.

Knowledge that is particularly lacking includes genomic characterization of this crop, to characterize traits such as disease resistance, and an understanding of how cannabis plants respond to inputs, including lighting, fertilizers, plant growth promoting rhizobacteria, etc. The understanding would be both in terms of overall production (quantity) and cannabinoid levels and composition within plants (quality). There are also few studies that consider the differences between production systems (i.e., comparing aeorponics, hydroponics, and soil- (or potting mix) based systems. Areas that warrant interest include investigation of the core cannabis microbiome in these differing environments and in response to inputs. There is also value in understanding the use of breeding in this crop using polyploids, due to the complications presented by a dioecious plant. Finally, producers struggle to control plant pathogens and insects, suggesting that there is enormous room for improved understanding of plant-pathogen and plant-insect relationships, as well as investigation of control strategies for each pest.

Cannabis strains can vary significantly in their chemical composition due to plant age, variety, growth conditions (nutrition, humidity, light), harvest time and storage. With over 700 varieties, standardized approaches/methodologies to biomedical cannabis research need to be defined. Although historically cannabis has been used as a therapeutic agent for the management of many diseases, the use of cannabis in medicine remains limited by a lack of evidence-based data on cannabis safety and efficacy, hampering the development of general guidelines for its use. Moreover, only a few of the more than 100 cannabinoids present in cannabis have been explored and tested for their therapeutic potential. Despite general excitement for cannabis-based therapy, rigorous scientific evidence is lacking for cannabis as a medicinal product.

The scope of the Research Topic includes manuscripts relevant to methods to improve cannabis production and quality, including studies of cannabis plant biology, and investigations into the possible uses of cannabis products in medicine. We are most interested in manuscripts containing original research, given the low availability of this data in the scientific literature. We will also consider review papers related to medical cannabis/biomedical research, particularly in relation to standardized testing of products with different cannabinoid profiles due to alterations in growth conditions in the fields of pharmacology and biochemistry; we are particularly interested in studies testing efficacy using real-world exposure regimes.

We are interested in specific topics, such as:
- omics studies of cannabis plants (e.g., transcriptomics in plant-pathogen relationships, genomic characterization of cannabis varieties, proteomic studies relating to cannabinoid and/or terpenoid biosynthesis), together with physiologically relevant functional characterization of differentially expressed transcripts or proteins
- use of novel inputs (e.g., LEDs, UV lights, plant growth promoting rhizobacteria, fertilizers)
- standardization of research protocols for real-world exposure scenarios that can advance cannabis-based biomedical research

Topic Editor Rachel Backer is now employed by company BZAM with a focus on R&D for indoor and outdoor cannabis cultivation. All other Topic Editors declare no competing interests with regards to the Research Topic subject.

Keywords: Cannabis, cannabinoids


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