Genotyping Services - Segra International
Segra International is a plant biotechnology company that specializes in industrial-scale cannabis plant micropropagation. The company is developing industrial-scale cannabis micropropagation laboratories to produce healthy, robust plantlets for licensed cannabis producers globally.
Segra, Cannabis Micropropagation, Cannabis Tissue Culture, Research and Development, R&D, Quality Management Systems, facilities, plant-based medicines, medicinal, Cannabis, botanical, tissue culture, specialist, Genotyping Services, Tissue Culture Production, Modular Growing Facility, Micropropagation
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Genotyping Services

Segra has built and outfitted a new genomics and molecular biology laboratory that is now operational. This will revolutionize the level of quality and standardization achievable by cannabis producers looking to maximize yields and profitability. Our laboratory will support Segra’s pending Health Canada license for cannabis tissue culture operations, and will also provide services for external clients.

Functions of the Genomics Laboratory

Segra’s genomics facility will be able to provide multiple services of value to cannabis growers and seed banks, as well as other agricultural/natural products clients:

Lab functions

The Genotyping laboratory will be used to support the following classes of activities:

Provide strain identification of incoming and outgoing cannabis strain stock materials – verification that valuable strain stock materials are as advertised;

Assist with best-in-class environmental detection and control of plant pathogens, microbiota, and fungal pests – earlier detection of pathogens and pests means cost-effective production and better return on investment of resources;

Strain standardization and genetic drift monitoring services – allows detection of drift and will indicate when stock strain materials/tissue culture plantlets should be re-established to ensure product consistency;

During crop breeding and master stock/tissue culture cultivation, detect plant gender at early seedling stages to allowing culling of unwanted male plants – allow focus of resources on valuable female producing plants at a much earlier stage of growth than traditional methods, ensuring cost-effective production;

Analyze seed stock from crosses at early seedling stages for critical genetic markers of mature plant traits, such as chemotype profile (CBD vs THC production levels) – save months of time required by non-genetics based methods in identification and selection of the plants with most desirable characteristics;

Development of Marker Assisted Selection practices allowing for faster selective breeding of strains with pre-selected desirable traits – custom breed plants for a target use or audience, years faster than traditional “cross, breed, score at maturity” methods now in use; and

Non-cannabis agricultural genomics and strain assurance. Other, non-cannabis industrial scale agriculture programs have already expressed desire to purchase strain identification and strain assurance services.

Current Status

Segra to date has:

Hired scientific and technical personnel with the highly specialized knowledge and experience to provide the services described;

Established and performed successful validation of computational methods used in converting raw genetic fingerprint data to usable strain identifications;

Performed exhaustive reviews of all pertinent scientific literature and identified best methods and method refinements for cannabis genetic fingerprinting;

Identified and obtained all required laboratory equipment for initial laboratory function;

Outfitted a laboratory space and currently in the commercialization process; and

Established contacts in cannabis and non-cannabis agricultural space with prospective clients for services.

Next Generation DNA Sequencing

Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) technologies allow for the collection of large amounts of genetic data from samples. In the Cannabis space, this promises to allow for Whole Genome Sequencing as a basis for in-depth understanding of what genetic traits act to direct critical characteristics, such as chemotypes, growth behaviour, and disease susceptibility and resistance. This can be further refined down for the establishment of key DNA markers of key traits to use in Marker Assisted Selection, supporting breeding programs to establish novel Cannabis varieties with desirable characteristics.

NGS technology can also be employed in the Cannabis environment for “metagenomics” to discover and assess the prevalence and significance of both known and as-yet unrecognized pathogenic microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, viruses and viroids. As novel pathogens are identified, rapid specific and cost-effective molecular tests can be developed to allow for their monitoring and QA exclusion from nursery tissue culture stock materials to help provide Segra’s customers with the most vigorous juvenile starts, and, consequently, the best growth and product yields possible.

Most current NGS platforms rely on technologies only capable of sequencing a few hundred base pairs at a time. To cover an entire Cannabis variety genome of some ~900 million base pairs, enormous numbers of such short reads must be generated at high per-reaction cost and subsequently overlapped or “tiled” by lengthy, computationally intensive workflows to yield a final full genome sequence and any associated metagenomics data.

Segra has chosen to deploy an alternative disruptive technology known as Nanopore sequencing for its NGS platform. Not only is this platform cheaper to operate per reaction than competing technologies, but the individual read lengths generated routinely run to tens of thousands of base pairs each. This long-read capacity greatly simplifies downstream bioinformatic computational requirements and promises to deliver faster and more compete full variety genomes, with fewer gaps, phasing, and tiling errors than short-read technologies can deliver.

Segra’s Genotyping and Molecular Lab Services Division has recently installed and operationally qualified this technology. Successful preliminary results have been obtained both in generating and assembling Cannabis variety genome sequences, and in metagenomic analysis of samples to identify the full spectrum of known and novel microbiota associated with these Cannabis samples. Ongoing research will further improve on throughput, speed, and accuracy of this process and ensure Segra’s continuing leadership role in the rapidly emerging Cannabis genetic technology space.