Hemp (Cannabis sativa) is an extraordinarily versatile plant – it has been used for millennia as a source of fibre, oil and for medicinal and recreational purposes. Additionally, it can be employed as a building material, for paper manufacturing, and textile production. Hemp is therefore an ideal crop for an environmentally friendly low-carbon economy and can be seen as a fundament for a sustainable society.

However, because the growth of hemp was widely banned in the last century in many countries throughout the world, genetic and agricultural studies in hemp are still lagging behind virtually every other modern crop.

Our lab is conducting a morphological and genetic characterization of hemp. We apply genomics and bioinformatics approaches to establish hemp as a modern crop that can be used for a more sustainable, carbon-neutral agriculture in an Irish and global context. We are working to contribute to the foundation for future Irish research regarding the genetic basis of the diverse properties of cannabis, feeding into on-going medical cannabinoid research already being undertaken in Irish laboratories. We are aided in this effort through our partnership with Greenlight Medicines, a leading distributor of cannabinoids in Ireland.

People involved: Susanne Schilling and Caroline Dowling.