The Phylos Galaxy

Phylos Galaxy

Phylos has the world’s largest database of cannabis DNA featuring the genetic identity of thousands of varieties from over 80 countries. The Phylos Galaxy is a 3D population genetics visualization of this data, offering the public unprecedented scientific insight into varieties that, until now, have only been categorized by street names. Anyone can submit a variety to the Galaxy with Phylos Genotype, a DNA sequencing test that offers permanent placement in the Galaxy, a “living” digital genetic report that updates in real time, and digital marketing tools to share your exciting varieties with the world.

The Cannabis Evolution Project

The Cannabis Evolution Project was a two-year collaboration with Rob Desalle, a curator and phylogeneticist at the American Museum of Natural History. Thousands of ancient and modern cannabis samples were collected from around the world, and serve as the foundation for the Galaxy you see today. We’re still working hard to tell the evolutionary story of this diverse and amazing plant.

How does it work?
Each node, or star, in the Phylos Galaxy represents a single cannabis plant. The distances between nodes show how similar they are. The lines show how related they are. Samples that share a lot of genetic variants will be very close, and different genetic populations are represented by colors.

How did you make the Galaxy?
We sequenced the DNA of over a thousand cannabis plants and compared them. We mapped those relationships into three dimensions using Principal Components Analysis, a well-established technique in the field of population genetics. We combined this approach with other statistical genetics methods that generate “heredity lines” connecting closely related samples. Then, we made an interactive visualization. These techniques have never before been used to visualize a single species.

Why is Phylos sequencing the DNA of different Cannabis varieties?
We want to know how Cannabis has evolved, what its history was like, and how it has co-evolved with humans. We want to know what domestication does to the shape of evolution, and to better understand the complex diversity of hybrid strains. We’re investigating where they came from, why they’re so different, and what makes each one unique. And most importantly, we want consumers and patients to finally know what they’re getting and be able to find it again without relying on inaccurate names.