The word epigenetics comes from the greek “epi”, in or on, and “genetics”. Conrad Hal Waddington used this term for the first time in 1942.
Epigenetics makes reference to the study of factors that interact with genes in order to modify their expression (phenotype). These genetic factors that are determined due to cellular environment rather than heredity, intervene in the development of an organism: from the formation of the zygote after sexual reproduction up to its mature form, and throughout adulthood, as well as intervening in the regulation of inheritable genetic expression, without changing the sequence of nucleotides.
What is epigenetics and why is it important for marijuana plants?
One could say that epigenetics is the intersection between chemical reactions and other processes that modify DNA activity but without altering its sequence. To consider epigenetic marks as non-genetic factors would pull us away from the true vision of the scientific discipline. Epigenetic marks aren’t genes, but modern genetics has taught us that it’s not only genes that influence the genetics of organisms.
After the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003, the commonly held idea that human beings and other organisms are only what is fundamentally written in our genes at conception, has been changing by leaps and bounds, and science continues to advance in ways that help us to understand the language that codes small chemical modifications that are capable of regulating the expression of a multitude of genes.
The common phrase “we are what we eat” has taken on a great deal of meaning. Environment and nutrition interact between other genetic factors in order to vary the final genetic expression of the individual. That is why it’s relevant that marijuana seeds be of maximum quality and inherit healthy epigenetics.
Epigenetics reinterprets known concepts and uncovers new mechanisms by which DNA information is translated in each individual. Concept by concept, a new genome language is unraveling itself and introducing the notion that our own experiences can impact our genetic material in ways previously unknown, and that these impacts can be transmitted to future generations.
To summarize: we are not only what we eat but also “we will be what we eat”. Epigenetics confirms for us that its not only the gene that is important but also the environment in which it develops and reproduces.
This would explain how the same clone situated in different environments would have a different final outcome, or why sometimes an individual female plant develops hermaphrodite flowers in some grow situations but not in others, or even the possibility of the reversal of sex in cannabis. Epigenetics shows the interaction of nutrition, environment, conditions and stress in resulting final genetic expression.