This month in our ongoing Secrets of Genetics we are going to explore Phenotypes.
Any organism has two copies of a given gene, but only uses one (mostly, it gets complicated). The whole map of all the genes is called a genotype, but the map of what genes are turned on and off, and when that happens, is called the phenotype. A given strain may have the capability to smell of oranges, but if that gene isn’t turned on and expressed it may just smell of hay. When a strain or organism has two identical copies then the genotype and phenotype can be extremely similar.
A classic strain that exhibits a good bit of variation is Jack Herer. While the exact parents of the strain are in dispute, we generally agree Jack was bred from Northern Lights, Skunk and maybe Haze. The wide variability of the parent gives Jack Herer enough variation that growing JH from seeds will give you several plants that, while similar, will different in their growth pattern, the intensity of their smells, their amount of THC, and most importantly their effects. It is generally considered a strain that is 60/40 sativa/indica and most examples provide a clear cerebral high with citrus notes, however some patients find it acts more like a heavier indica that allows one to sleep well.
These differences are what we mean when we refer to a strain’s pheno. The job of the grower and breeder is to clearly communicate to the patient where on this variationcurve their product lives. An advanced grower may have the long-term goal of creating a Jack descendent that lacks this variability. I hope this information may help you in the future to match the medical strains available to the needs of a given patient. Until Next Time!