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Marijuana Plant Sequenced

At last, the field of genomics has something to offer Cheech and Chong. DNA sequencing hit a new high last night with the midnight release of the Cannabis sativa genome. The raw sequence was posted on Amazon’s EC2 public cloud computing service by a young company called Medicinal Genomics, which aims to explore the genomes of therapeutic plants.

Thus far the company is only posting the raw sequence reads – meaning that the over 131 billion bases of shotgun sequence have not yet undergone the important and arduous process of being assembled into contiguous chunks. For now, the sequence is fragmented into hundreds of thousands of snippets. But Medicinal Genomics founder Kevin McKernan says he estimates the size of the C. sativa genome to be about 400 million bases – roughly three times the genome of that other weed, the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana.

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