Project properties

Title Herbarium genomics to assess wild and landrace diversity in Cannabis sativa
Group Biosystematics Group
Project type thesis
Credits 24-36
Supervisor(s) Dr. Robin van Velzen, Dr. Tinde van Andel
Examiner(s) Prof. dr. Eric Schranz
Contact info Robin.vanvelzen@wur.nl
Begin date 2022/01/01
End date 2022/12/31
Description Cannabis is native to Eurasia where it has been cultivated by humans for fiber and medicinal/ritual purposes for millenia. However, the variation across local landraces and putative wild plants remains unknown. Moreover, extensive exchange of germplasm across the world since the 1970s may potentially obscure original native genotypes.
To chart genetic variation of Cannabis landraces, you will assess the collection of Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden. This collection holds ca. 200 herbarium specimens from Cannabis from all over the world, including possible areas of original domestication such as India and China. The collection includes both wild plants and plants cultivated for fiber and drugs and some are more than 100 years old providing a unique historical perspective.
You will examine all available data associated with Cannabis accessions in Naturalis and isolate DNA in the lab of the Biosystematics group, for genotyping. Using bioinformatic analyses you will answer research questions such as:
- In what regard do these accessions differ from the modern medicinal / recreational or hemp varieties currently on the market?
- Do genotypes of recent samples match those of historical herbarium accessions from the same region?
- Based on the available data can we predict whether accessions reflect wild plants or plants cultivated for fiber or drugs?
Results will shed light on the historical biogeography and landrace domestication of Cannabis.
Used skills DNA isolation, bioinformatic data analysis
Requirements Experience with Molecular biology laboratory skills, affinity for/experience with bioinformatics/statistics