Segra: Pioneering Plant Tissue Culture Sciences For The Cannabis Industry, Plus Exclusive Interview
December 6th, 2018
Exclusive, News, Top News
Virtually all cannabis cultivators are struggling to produce the quality and quantity of starting plants required as their operations rapidly scale up. Vegetative propagation, the current best practice for producing baby cannabis plants, is proving difficult to scale as plant requirements for large operators move into the millions of plants per year. Many cultivators report that executing an effective vegetative propagation program is the number one pain point they face operationally.
Segra International Corp. provides cannabis cultivators with an alternative, offering reliable delivery of uniform starting plants. Using a modern agricultural technology known as plant tissue culture, standardised plants are produced in a controlled laboratory environment at scale. From strawberries to orchids, the production of virtually every other clonally produced crop in the world has graduated to using plant tissue culture to solve issues related to scaling and pathogen control. Segra is bringing this technology to the cannabis industry globally.
Strategically located in Vancouver, Canada, Segra is emerging as a leader in cannabis plant tissue culture. Under the guidance of world-renowned plant tissue culture scientist Dr. Sma Zobayed, Segra’s team has developed proprietary protocols necessary to offer their product, known as “plantlets”, to commercial-scale cannabis growers internationally. To ensure an exacting standard of quality, Segra maintains an in-house molecular biology lab, headed by genomics expert Dr. John Brunstein, which conducts DNA fingerprinting and plant pathogen detection. With strong client traction and a clear path towards growth, investors may want to take a closer look at the company’s unique place within the $100+ billion global cannabis industry.
CFN Media recently interviewed CEO Todd McMurray to discuss Segra’s approach to high-grade cannabis production and what sets it apart from other companies.
Vegetative Propagation vs. Plant Tissue Culture
Vegetative propagation (commonly referred to as “cloning” in the cannabis industry) has long been the go-to method for producing baby cannabis plants. In this process, large mother stock plants are cultivated, from which cuttings are taken to produce baby plants. Industrial-scale cannabis growers find their operations stunted by these resource-intensive mothering plants, as 5-10% of of the total cultivation area is typically allocated to mother stock plant production. Furthermore, maintaining healthy mother stock plants is a major pain point for cultivators because cannabis regulators have banned virtually all the pesticide products that have historically been used to control plant pathogens on cannabis mother stock plants. There is no precedent in agriculture for the commercial vegetative propagation of any crop without substantial use of numerous pesticides, and licensed cannabis growers do not have access to any of them.
Plant tissue culture solves the issues associated with vegetative propagation. In this laboratory process, small pieces of plant tissue are collected from a mother plant and bacterial, fungal, and viral contamination is removed. The clean plant tissue is then rapidly grown and multiplied under sterile controlled conditions. The result of this process is Segra’s product, a plantlet. Up to 10,000 plantlets in a single arms-length box can be shipped by air freight directly to cultivation facilities worldwide. In the near future cultivators will be able to purchase plantlets from Segra rather than maintain their own expensive and risky mother stock plant programs. This frees up valuable cultivation space, reduces the risk of crop loss, and provides growers with a plant supply that is both reliable and scalable.
World-Class Management and Scientific Team
Since co-founding Segra in 2014, CEO Todd McMurray has applied his 25 years of corporate management experience toward supporting Segra’s vision of becoming the global leader in plant tissue culture. To turn that vision into a reality, he has assembled and empowered a world-class team of leading scientists and cannabis industry experts, including:
Dr. Sma Zobayed, Director of Tissue Culture: Trained by Dr. Toyoki Kozai, considered by many to be the “father of tissue culture,” Dr. Sma Zobayed has made an international name for himself in short order. Having already successfully commercialized more than 500 unique plant cultivars using plant tissue culture (including cannabis) Dr. Zobayed has joined Segra to apply his expertise in plant tissue culture in this emerging industry. Having most recently managed two industrial-scale nursery facilities that produced more than 12 million plantlets annually, Dr. Zobayed’s accomplishments in the field (including as high as 7x multiplication of plant stock over a 30-day period) make him ideally-suited for the role of Director of Tissue Culture for Segra.
Dr. John Brunstein, Chief Science Officer: Since receiving his Ph.D. in biochemistry, Dr. Brunstein has successfully pursued his research in environments both academic (as a Clinical Assistant Professor and the Chief Scientific Officer at the BC Centre for Translational and Applied Genomics) and commercial (as founder of PathoID). Dr. Brunstein adds considerable clinical trial and assay validation experience to Segra’s quality assurance program. In his two years as the head of Segra’s molecular biology lab, Dr. Brunstein has already developed and validated tools Segra will be deploying as part of its strain and gene identification services. Preliminary results of this work were presented at the International Cannabinoid Research Society meeting in Leiden, The Netherlands (July 2018).
Highly Differentiated and Exponentially Scaleable
In a crowded cannabis startup environment, Segra’s story is truly unique, with a focus on establishing plant tissue culture as an entirely new segment of the cannabis supply chain. Not only is Segra a highly differentiated cannabis company, its core technology is fundamentally and exponentially scaleable. By applying proven and proprietary plant tissue culture techniques, Segra’s plantlet inventory can multiply exponentially in perpetuity – every single plantlet has the potential to multiply to over 100,000 new individuals annually. Using strains supplied to Segra or chosen from its catalogue, this game-changing approach to cannabis cultivation will see nurseries and greenhouses all over the world stocked with clean, genetically-verified cannabis.
Commercialization Underway in Canada
Segra has already initiated four top-tier licensed producers into its micropropagation program, including Cronos Group (NASDAQ: CRON), Hexo (TSX.V: HEXO), Supreme (TSX.V: FIRE), and Agripharm. The program is specifically designed to enable licensed producers to scale-up their operations for both Canada’s newly available recreational market, and international expansion efforts. Segra’s existing clients will require millions of plantlets per year by 2021 for the Canadian market alone.
Segra International represents a compelling investment opportunity within the cannabis space. With its unique plant tissue culture expertise, the company is well-positioned to help licensed producers throughout Canada, and around the world, grow their operations with clean, healthy plantlets.
The above article is sponsored content. Emerging Growth LLC, which owns CannabisFN.com and CFN Media, has been hired to create awareness. Please follow the link below to view our full disclosure outlining our compensation: https://www.cannabisfn.com/legal-disclaimer/
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About CFN Media
CFN Media (CannabisFN) is the leading creative agency and media network dedicated to legal cannabis. We help marijuana businesses attract investors, customers (B2B, B2C), capital, and media visibility. Private and public marijuana companies and brands in the US and Canada rely on CFN Media to grow and succeed.
CFN launched in June of 2013 to initially serve the growing universe of publicly traded marijuana companies across North America. Today, CFN Media is also the digital media choice for the emerging brands in the space.
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