What Are Tetraploids And Triploids In Cannabis?
3 min

What Are Tetraploids And Triploids In Cannabis?

3 min

Are tetraploid and triploid plants the future of cannabis cultivation? While the research is limited, their potential to produce larger yields, more terpenes, and denser trichomes is bound to pique the interest of many a grower. However, we're just scratching the surface here; there's plenty to learn about the world of cannabis polyploids.

It goes without saying that cannabis genetics can be a complex topic; but when it comes to using this information to improve the quality of our cannabis plants, we're all ears! In this article, we examine tetraploids and triploids—two natural chromosomal abnormalities that occur in cannabis—which have caught the attention of marijuana scientists, seed banks, and the casual home grower. Let's take a look at what these terms mean for the cannabis community.

What are tetraploids in cannabis?

What Are Tetraploids In Cannabis?

Typically, cannabis contains two sets of chromosomes, and is referred to as a diploid. However, a tetraploid is when four sets of chromosomes (two female and two male) are present. As mentioned, although rare, this is a naturally occurring phenomenon, and one that's not exclusive to cannabis. It can also occur in other plants and vegetables, such as wheat and potatoes.

Tetraploid benefits

With the presence of more chromosomes, there is some early data to suggest that tetraploid plants could offer the following benefits:

  • Higher stress tolerance
  • Larger leaves
  • Denser trichomes
  • An increase in terpenes
  • Potential increase in CBD and THC levels

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What are triploids in cannabis?

What Are Triploids In Cannabis?

Triploids occur when there are three sets of chromosomes present. Although this can happen naturally and spontaneously, typically, in the cannabis industry, a triploid is achieved by crossing a tetraploid plant with a diploid one. Triploid techniques are also massively popular in food production for crops such as grapes, bananas, and citrus fruits as they do not contain any seeds, making them ideal for immediate consumption. Seedless cannabis is also massively sought after, and triploids make this happen. With the absence of seeds, triploid plants are incapable of being fertilised even when exposed directly to male pollen, allowing for more reliable and productive plants that can be kept in close proximity to others.

Triploid benefits

Similar to that of tetraploid cannabis plants, there are various potential benefits associated with triploids:

  • Increased yields
  • Resistant to pollination
  • Denser trichomes
  • Potential increase in CBD and THC levels
  • Larger leaves

Diploid cannabis vs polyploid cannabis

Diploid Cannabis Vs Polyploid Cannabis

As you can probably tell by this point, there are plenty of potential upsides associated with polyploid cannabis. However, both polyploid and diploid cannabis have their dedicated uses.

Polyploid strains are thought to be more genetically stable than diploids. They are more robust and resilient even at the seedling stage, resulting in less stunted growth and other issues compared to diploid plants.

Also, as polyploid cannabis, specifically triploids, are seedless and essentially infertile, this makes for a much more controlled growing experience, and is ideal for large-scale commercial operations. Without the risk of their crop being pollinated, growers can cultivate copious amounts of cannabis in close proximity. Diploid cannabis, on the other hand, has the normal 1:1 chromosome pairing, meaning it is more suitable for pollination.

Polyploid techniques have long been used in the vegetable industry, where they are associated with sizeable increases in yield. When applied to cannabis, it's unclear if, and to what degree, yields are more substantial compared to diploid plants. However, the increased trichome density and terpene concentrations of polyploid plants, as well as potential increases in CBD and THC content, may equate to more potent or flavourful harvests compared to diploids.

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Why tetraploids and triploids are a potential game-changer for cannabis breeding

Why Tetraploids And Triploids Are A Potential Game-Changer For Cannabis Breeding

So, what does tetraploid and triploid cannabis mean for breeding? While the seeds themselves are not yet widely available, and are still very much in the research and development stages, the preliminary results speak volumes. The ability to cultivate high-quality cannabis at a faster rate with larger yields is always going to appeal to even the most casual of cannabis cultivation enthusiasts. There will undoubtedly come a time when this method of modifying cannabis genetics becomes as commonplace and accepted in both commercial and home settings as it is in the fruit and vegetable industries.

However, the research surrounding polyploid cannabis is in its early days, and much more is required before any concrete evidence can be drawn regarding their benefits, particularly in the arenas of increased yield and THC content. But as the global cannabis industry continues to accelerate, the introduction of reliable and robust polyploid cannabis strains could very well be the biggest game-changer in the industry since feminized and autoflowering cultivars.

Time to get to grips with tetraploids and triploids

Time To Get To Grips With Tetraploids And Triploids

The future looks bright for tetraploid and triploid cannabis; it really is just a matter of time before we see these strains become available in the cannabis market. However, in the meantime, you can have lots of fun with “regular” diploid seeds. Still able to flourish in a wide variety of settings, there's never been a better time to get paired up with a cannabis strain that's primed to exhibit the very best of its genetic makeup.

But where can you find these seeds? Well, that part is simple. Head over to the Zamnesia Seedshop and get your pick of the finest cultivars around today. Whether you're new to the cannabis cultivation game or have vast experience, here at Zamnesia, we've got you covered.

Adam Parsons
Adam Parsons
Professional cannabis journalist, copywriter, and author Adam Parsons is a long-time staff member of Zamnesia. Tasked with covering a wide range of topics from CBD to psychedelics and everything in between, Adam creates blog posts, guides, and explores an ever-growing range of products.
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