Endophytic diversity of pahrmaceutically important Cannabis sativa
Cannabis sativa is an annual herbaceous plant of the Cannabaceae family from central Asia. Cannabinoids like Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabinol, cannabidiol, cannabigerol are one of the major secondary metabolites of this plant, which are known to have important pharmaceutical benefits like analgesic, anti-inflammatory, neuro-protective, appetite-stimulant and many more. Endophytic microorganisms (endophytes) still remain an unexplored group of very promising organism with diverse potential for exploitation, that are capable of producing bioactive secondary metabolites, sometimes even those natural products considered exclusive to their host plants. Thus, these microorganisms are important not only from molecular and biochemical standpoint but also from the ecological perspectives.
We have isolated a plethora of endophytes, both bacteria and fungi, from various tissues of Cannabis plant like the leaf, stem, and roots. We are evaluating the ecological significance of these endophytes by taxonomically characterizing these microfloras using several microbiological, molecular and bioinformatics tools and techniques. Such a comprehensive phylogenetic approach will enable us in understanding the spatial distribution and species diversity of endophytes of this important plant. Despite the legal problems associated with this plant the better understanding of the plant-endophyte relationship will provide a potential of exploring the pharmaceutical benefits of the plant and thus a proper difference between drug of abuse and medicine can be made with proper research. Consequently, the synergy between compounds and potential for interaction within the plant may provide successful and better therapeutic potential of Cannabis as a medicine.