Nonterpenoid Chemical Diversity of Cannabis Phenotypes Predicts Differentiated Aroma Characteristics


ACS Omega. 2024 Jun 19;9(26):28806-28815. doi: 10.1021/acsomega.4c03225. eCollection 2024 Jul 2.


The recent increase in legality of Cannabis Sativa L. has led to interest in developing new varieties with unique aromatic or effect-driven traits. Selectively breeding plants for the genetic stability and consistency of their secondary metabolite profiles is one application of phenotyping. While this horticultural process is used extensively in the cannabis industry, few studies exist examining the chemical data that may differentiate phenotypes aromatically. To gain insight into the diversity of secondary metabolite profiles between progeny, we analyzed five ice water hash rosin extracts created from five different phenotypes of the same crossing using comprehensive 2-dimensional gas chromatography coupled to time-of-flight mass spectrometry, flame ionization detection, and sulfur chemiluminescence detection. These results were then correlated to results from a human sensory panel, which revealed specific low-concentration compounds that strongly influence sensory perception. We found aroma differences between certain phenotypes that are driven by key minor, nonterpenoid compounds, including the newly reported 3-mercaptohexyl hexanoate. We further report the identification of octanoic and decanoic acids, which are implicated in the production of cheese-like aromas in cannabis. These results establish that even genetically similar phenotypes can possess diverse and distinct aromas arising not from the dominant terpenes, but rather from key minor volatile compounds. Moreover, our study underscores the value of detailed chemical analyses in enhancing cannabis selective breeding practices, offering insights into the chemical basis of aroma and sensory differences.

PMID:38973868 | PMC:PMC11223244 | DOI:10.1021/acsomega.4c03225