Plants exclusively combine two features:
- They are using unutilized resources for their living cycle by fixation of inorganic carbon and solar energy then transforming them into the basic organic structure in nature – glucose.
- They are strictly bounded to the spot where they germinate, exposed to any environmental change as well as to any biotic or abiotic threat.
Plants cannot hide from the sun on an extremely hot day, nor do they have a protective layer from freezing and they will not grab their legs and run away when a living herbivore is getting close.
These features urged plants to develop highly sophisticated chemical laboratories, which synthesize active compounds as a response to some vast environmental challenges.
Cannabis sativa is one good example of plant’s complex control of ecological interaction with its surroundings, using its broad biochemical production. Cannabis produces hundreds of compounds, which the plant doesn’t need for its primary metabolism. Those compounds include the cannabinoids, terpenes, alkaloids and more. Terpenes have an important ecological function as they participate in the communication and plant defense mechanisms (phytoalexins). In cannabis, 120 terpenes have been identified, most act as a protective agent against insects, bacteria, and parasitic fungi.
The current opinion on cannabis terpenes gives them great therapeutic value in whole plant extract. Terpenes synergistic behavior with the cannabinoid was defined by researchers as ‘the Entourage effect’. This matter encourages the study of factors that influence the accumulation of terpenes in the plant.
Today we assume that some compounds derived from different mushrooms and seaweeds, trigger the plant defense mechanism. Studies show that exposure to such compounds increases terpene production. Plant hormones, which are responsible for signaling the plant during an insect attack, such as Jasmonic acid, are first activated. The activation of these signaling pathways leads to an increased expression of genes, which encode enzymes that synthesize terpenes to enhance protection against pathogens.
A high quantity of terpenes is a highly praised feat by both medical and recreational cannabis consumers. This kind of knowledge gives us the opportunity to learn more about terpenes control in the plant’s life cycle and how to obtain more terpene in cannabis trichomes.