The term ‘phenotype’ refers to the physical expression of an organism. Put simply, an organism’s phenotype is its physical characteristics, or the way it looks, and it’s chemical composition. When discussing marijuana phenotypes, we refer to the unique way individual plants express their genetics.
What Is a ‘Phenotype?’
Phenotypes are determined by two basic factors: genetics (or genotype), and environment. Phenotype plasticity can result in variable color, leaf shape, potency, etc.
In the world of cannabis, two seeds with the same genotype may express varying characteristics, and have diverging phenotypes, regardless of how they were grown. In many cases, growers also see phenotype plasticity amongst plants grown in identical conditions, even if those conditions could be considered ‘ideal.’
Inevitably, no two plants can exhibit identical phenotypes, and will always express different characteristics despite technically being genetically identical.
Can Phenotype Be Influenced?
The best chance growers have to produce a crop of identical cannabis phenotypes is to provide genetic clones with ideal conditions. While no two crops will be quite the same, innovative cultivators have learned to speed up and enhance the process by taking cuttings from ideal phenotype plants and producing clones.
How Do Growers Use Phenotypes?
Experienced growers cultivate generations of cannabis, often spending years perfecting their methods and learning to identify the best plants. By selecting the most ideal phenotypes from each crop, growers can help to increase the chances of future generations posessing these positive characteristics.
However, growing from seed is almost always unpredictable, making phenotype plasticity inevitable.
The most predictable method of reproducing phenotypes is by creating clones. Clones are cuttings taken from high-quality mother plants, making them identical genetic copies. While growing conditions and unpredictable environmental factors may still result in some phenotype plasticity, using clones is one of the best ways to ensure you are getting the best expression of high-quality genetics possible.