Planta Med 2019; 85(09/10): 781-796
DOI: 10.1055/a-0915-2550
Natural Product Chemistry and Analytical Studies
Original Papers
Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

The Terroir of Cannabis: Terpene Metabolomics as a Tool to Understand Cannabis sativa Selections

Elizabeth M. Mudge
1  Chemistry, University of British Columbia, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada
2  Natural Health & Food Products Research, British Columbia Institute of Technology, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
,
Paula N. Brown
2  Natural Health & Food Products Research, British Columbia Institute of Technology, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
3  Biology, University of British Columbia, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada
,
Susan J. Murch
1  Chemistry, University of British Columbia, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

received 04 February 2019
revised 17 April 2019

accepted 30 April 2019

Publication Date:
16 May 2019 (online)

Abstract

The phytochemical diversity of Cannabis chemovars is not well understood, and many chemovars were created in informal breeding programs without records of parentage or the criteria for selection. Key criteria for selection sometimes included aroma notes and visual cues, which some breeders associated with pharmacological activity. We hypothesized that the process of selection for scents believed to be related to specific tetrahydrocannabinol levels has resulted in modified terpene biosynthesis in these chemovars. Thirty-two cannabinoids, 29 monoterpenes and 38 sesquiterpenes were measured in 33 chemovars from 5 licensed producers. A classification system based on cannabinoid content was used with targeted metabolomic tools to determine relationships in the phytochemistry. Three monoterpenes, limonene, β-myrcene, and α-pinene, and two sesquiterpenes, caryophyllene and humulene, were abundant in the majority of chemovars. Nine terpenes were present in tetrahydrocannabinol-dominant chemovars. Three monoterpenes and four sesquiterpenes were predominantly found in cannabidiol-containing chemovars. Low abundance terpenes may have been the aromatic cues identified by breeders. The medicinal activity of some of the terpenes is likely to contribute to the pharmacological effect of specific chemovars. Together, these data demonstrate the synergy of compounds in Cannabis chemovars and point to the need for additional research to understand the phytochemical complexity.

Supporting Information