Understanding the biological basis for leaf shape between individuals can reveal how the environment or humans induce changes in a population. Characterizing physical differences between individuals (Morphometrics), is widely used in evolutionary biology to provide insights into speciation, behavior, and relationships between individuals. One critically understudied aspect of Cannabis biology is how the differences in leaf shape vary within and between strains. Variation in shape could explain much of the species’ life history and interaction with humans. Additionally, morphometric tools help in reconstructing the evolutionary history of an organism.
In this study, we will use geometric morphometrics to describe shape variation in different strains of Cannabis and its closely related species, Humulus (Hops).We hope to connect differences in leaf shape to the basic biology of Cannabis in the following ways: 1. When humans selectively breed strains for increased potency in active compounds (CBD, THC or other secondary metabolites), is leaf shape affected? 2. Does leaf shape tell us about the relatedness of the different strains (whether closely related strains have a similar shape)? We hope in the future to relate this descriptive analysis of leaf shape to the genomics of Cannabis and to establish whether 1. unrelated individuals under similar breeding conditions develop similar leaf shape (convergence); and 2. we can identify the geographic origin of domestication (for example Middle East vs. India) based on leaf shape. Please visit our webpage and contribute to our scientific research!!