Int J Legal Med. 2021 Feb 18. doi: 10.1007/s00414-021-02518-x. Online ahead of print.
Cannabis sativa (marijuana and hemp) is one of the most controversial crops worldwide. In the USA, the state-specific legalization of marijuana and recently legalized hemp pose a problem for law enforcement. This study seeks to utilize chloroplast hSTRs, INDEL, and SNPs markers to develop genotyping methods to aid in the differentiation of legal hemp from illicit marijuana and also for tracking the flow of trafficked marijuana. Three polymorphic regions: trnK-matK-trnK, ycf3, and accD-psal, of the C. sativa chloroplast genome were evaluated in order to distinguish crop type and biogeographic origin. A total of nine polymorphic sites were genotyped from five distinct populations (hemp from the USA and Canada, marijuana from Chile and USA-Mexico, and medical marijuana from Chile) with a custom fragment and SNaPshotTM assay. The study also combined genotype results from the same sample set using 21 additional polymorphic markers from previous studies. The effectiveness of these multi-locus assays to distinguish sample groups was assessed using haplotype analysis, phylogenetic analysis, pairwise comparisons, and principal component analysis. Results indicated a clear separation of Canadian hemp using only the nine polymorphic sites developed in this study. The additional 21 markers were able to separate US hemp from both marijuana groups to a significant level (p < 0.05) when assessing average Fixation Indices (FST). This study demonstrated the applicability of these organelle markers for the determination of crop type and biogeographic origin of C. sativa. However, a more extensive database is needed to evaluate the true discriminatory power of these markers.
Source: ncbi 2