Researchers across the University of Connecticut have focused their efforts on improving knowledge related to cannabis – from horticulture, to economic analysis, and biochemistry. Agricultural scientists from the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources were at the forefront of cannabis research, having been members of the first USDA Multistate efforts in the area of cannabis production analysis and improvement. Due to their expertise in the emerging area of research, CAHNR scientists have collaborated with industry partners, receiving over $1 million in sponsored research funding, to support their R&D activities.
CAHNR faculty at the cutting-edge of cannabis research
Over $1 million
Industry and federal funding
Micropropagation and Breeding Triploid Cannabis
Researchers in the Lubell-Brand Lab in the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture are bringing growers one step closer to efficient cannabis production with innovation micropropagation and hybrid propagation systems. Micropropagation is a technique used for growing large quantities of new plants from fewer “parent” plants, yielding clones with the same, predictable qualities. The cannabis (Cannabis sativa) industry, however, has been largely left out of this beneficial technique, because this species of plant is extremely difficult to micropropagate. As a result of this ongoing research, UConn plant scientists hope to develop methods for producing many more clones that are disease-free, with enhanced vigor, grown in much less space. Learn more about the Lubell-Brand Lab.
Molecular Genetics of Cannabis
In the labs of UConn researchers Gerald Berkowitz and Yi Li, scientists study plant characterization and molecular genetics to improve breeding, grafting, and production technologies. The Berkowitz Lab provides new insights into the rate-limiting steps of cannabinoid production and is developing proprietary approaches to the molecular genetics of cannabis. Using bioinformatics to identify important gene targets to support more advanced growing techniques, this research will not only explore plant hormones to improve cannabis production, it will also offer important knowledge about cultural management practices used by industry to produce controlled environment cannabis. The Li Lab focuses on developing methods to genetically transform cannabis as well as edit genes; this work provides new approaches to developing elite cannabis germplasm. Learn more about the Berkowitz Lab and the Li Lab.
Economics of Cannabis
Within the Zwick Center for Food and Resource Policy housed in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, researchers are examining the economic implications of cannabis in Connecticut. The economic analysis program involves generating enterprise budgets under alternative technologies, risks related to factors like weather and prices, as well as evaluating the impact of cannabis and the evolving policies related to its sale on the state economy. Learn more about research of Dr. Rigoberto Lopez from the Zwick Center for Food and Resource Policy.
Plant Health & Environmental Agriculture
In addition to developing novel growing techniques in the lab, UConn researchers are also working to identify the possible dangers cannabis plants could encounter in the field. The Raudales Lab conducts applied research on controlled environment agriculture with emphasis on microbial and chemical parameters of water quality that affect plant health and irrigation efficiency. The Raudales team continues to evaluate plant pathogens, fungicide resistance, and disease control alternatives in response to direct and immediate demand from the commercial growing industry. Learn more about the Raudales Lab.
UConn Research in Cannabinoids and Hemp (RiCH) Group
The UConn Research in Cannabinoids and Hemp (RiCH) group was founded in 2021 by UConn students and faculty in Nursing, Chemistry, and Plant Science, and includes member from UConn as well as industry partners across Connecticut and New England.
The goal of the RiCH group is to bring together scholars, clinicians, and industry partners interested in cannabinoids and other products derived from the cannabis plant. We facilitate collaboration among our members and provide educational outreach on the biology, potential benefits, and applications of cannabinoids and hemp. Learn more about the RiCH Group.
Several UConn Extension programs provide customized support for commercial cannabis growers in Connecticut. Extension educators create knowledge about cultivar selection, harvesting, and drying, and can help commercial growers precisely diagnose plant health issues. In addition to these services, UConn Extension hosts virtual webinars and provides on-site support for commercial cannabis growers in the state. Learn more about UConn Extension and Dr. Shuresh Ghimire.
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