Genotype is the genetic blueprint or code of a cannabis plant. The physical expression or appearance of a plant depends in part on the plant’s genotype. The environmental conditions in which a cannabis plant grows also plays a significant role in determining the activation or suppression of specific genes.
“The genotype of a cannabis plant influences its phenotype, or physical expression.”
“I’m cloning this cannabis plant so I can grow cuttings with the exact same genotype.”
What is genotype?
The genotype carries the range of genetic possibilities that can be expressed in a cannabis plant. Cannabis seeds already contain the complete genetic blueprint for all of its physical characteristics.
The physical expression of that genetic blueprint, the phenotype, will be influenced by the environment in which the plant grows—some genes will be triggered by the environment and consequently expressed in the plant as it grows, but if certain conditions are missing from the plant’s environment, such as adequate nutrient levels or light, some genes won’t be activated.
The genotype can refer to a specific genetic trait, such as the genotype for height, or the entire genetic make-up of the plant.
Every cannabis seed is a product of sexual reproduction, which creates genetic diversity. A packet of cannabis seeds may share many characteristics, but every seed will carry a fresh batch of genes—its own unique genotype. Cannabis clones, on the other hand, do not have a unique genotype. When a cutting is taken from a mother plant, its genotype is identical to that of the mother.
It’s vital to note that although clones share an identical genotype, the physical appearance of these plants can vary dramatically depending on the conditions and environment they grow in.
Genotype vs. phenotype
The genotype governs the spectrum of possibilities that may be expressed, while the phenotype is the actual physical appearance of a cannabis plant.
The genotype precedes the phenotype: It lays out the blueprint for how the plant may grow and the physical appearance it takes on. The degree to which these genes are expressed are mitigated by the environment in which the plant grows.