The Phylos Galaxy


Phylos Galaxy

The Phylos Galaxy uses DNA sequence data to map the relationships between thousands of cannabis varieties. It is a 3D visualization of the cannabis world. Phylos Genotype is a genetic identity test that offers placement in the Galaxy, along with a genetic report and digital marketing tools.

The Cannabis Evolution Project

The Galaxy is the result of The Cannabis Evolution Project, a two-year collaboration with Rob Desalle, a curator and phylogeneticist at the American Museum of Natural History. We’ve sequenced the genomes of thousands of ancient and modern cannabis samples, and 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 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. The colors cluster the different regions into “tribes.”

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; and then we made it interactive. These techniques have never been combined into a single visualization before, for any species.

Why is Phylos sequencing the DNA of all these Cannabis varieties?
We want to know how Cannabis has evolved, what its history was like, and how it has co-evolved with humans. And we want to know what domestication does to the shape of evolution. We want to understand today’s crazy mix of hybrid strains. We want to know where they came from, why they’re so different, and what makes each one unique. And we want consumers and patients to finally know what they’re getting and be able to get it again.