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marijuana seed germination vector

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Janischevsky [13] observed a case of epizoochory – the fire bug, Pyrrhocoris apterus, carried achenes of C. ruderalis. Janischevsky claimed the elongated base of wild-type achenes contained special cells “rich in oily inclusions,” which he characterized as an elaiosome. This term was coined by Sernander (1906) to describe fleshy and edible appendages of seeds dispersed by ants. P. apterus allegedly sucked oil out of the elaiosome, while the rest of the seed remained intact and capable of germination. In the process of feeding, the bug carried the seed “far distances.” No one else has observed P. apterus feeding upon hemp achenes. Small [17] dissected a number of wild-type accessions, including plants of Russian origin, and stated: “I have not been able to perceive much basal oil cell proliferation in most achenes of wild plants.”

The achenes of C. sativa lack classic adaptations for epizoochory, such as hooks, spines, and barbs. Moravcová et al. [12] modeled epizoochory by testing the ability of seeds to attach to the fur of wild boar (Sus scrofa). A piece of fur was pressed against 25 seeds scattered on a sheet of paper (replicated 4 times). Surprisingly, a mean of 60% of hemp achenes stuck to the fur – the species ranked 44th out of 93. Sanchis Serra et al. [16] found C. sativa achenes in the nest of an Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus). The achenes came from carcasses the vulture carried to the nest, perhaps via epizoochory.

Materials and Methods

Qualitatively, seedlings from canine and human feces appeared more robust than control seedlings. Four days after emergence, a thunderstorm caused ∼25% of the control seedlings to lodge, whereas none of the feces-fertilized seedlings fell over (Fig. 1). However, any visual differences between the test groups disappeared within 3 weeks of emergence.

Darwin [5] documented endozoochory vectored by carrier pigeons (Columba livia domestica) flying from France to England. He actually described diploendozoochory, where endozoochory spans two trophic levels: the pigeons, upon arrival in England, were preyed upon by hawks and owls. “Some hawks and owls bolt their prey whole, and after an interval of from twelve to twenty hours, disgorge pellets, including seeds capable of germination. Some seeds of the oat, wheat, millet, canary, hemp, clover, and beet germinated after having been from twelve to twenty-one hours in the stomachs of different birds of prey.”

Understanding the origin of medicinal plants and their ecological selection pressures may offer insights into their evolution of secondary metabolites. Cannabis and her sister genus Humulus diverged 27.8 million years ago [1]. Cannabis sativa has a center of origin in Central Asia [2], or more specifically the northeastern Tibetan plateau [3]. A meta-analysis of fossil pollen studies suggests C. sativa had dispersed to Europe by 1.8 million years ago [4]. The European distribution of C. sativa expanded and contracted with glacial cycles, like that of many plants. During interstadials (warmer, wetter periods, like our present time), C. sativa pollen was limited to “refugia” – steppe landscapes that persisted in otherwise forested Europe.