The first time anyone mentioned that Phylos might be hoarding DNA sample to patent them, or some other nefarious stuff, I started researching them. With a very heavy research background in biotech, marker assisted genetics & advanced biology, I tried figuring out what it would actually take for them to use the DNA samples they have. The reality is that they don't have the necessary resources to do any of the things they're being accused of. For a full DNA read that would be usuable to reconstruct a full & complete DNA strand it's going to cost you between $5,000-$15,000 per run on a brand new machine, depending on the allele duplication rate, which is HUGE in cannabis, especially in modern day cultivars, you're looking at needing to do dozens or even hundreds of runs to assure the necessary accuracy of the completed genome. (Even at $5,000 a run you're looking at $60,000 for a dozen runs.)
Additionally, they haven't had a single "leak" of information pointing to anything nefarious in the entire time they've existed as a company. I don't know of a single notable bad thing that's ever happened inside a company that didn't result in an employee, family member or friend of an employee, letting something slip. They've had tons of outsiders with almost no understanding of modern genetics making wild accusations, but that's true of every single field of science for as far back as we've had the scientific method.
I pulled up a DNA sample submitted by Phylos to the Open Cannabis Project, which means any strain that has the same identified markers can't be patented, because it's been placed in the public domain.
The Deep Dive Down the Rabbit Hole!
This is a screenshot from the National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, which is a national repository kept freely available to the world. This is the same organization that published the genomic data on maize that I used in most of my college studies of advanced biotech. Phylos has published over 1000 DNA read-throughs on the NCBI servers, which covers everything from landraces to almost every one of the "flavor of the day" strains currently being hyped.
Without needing any specialized software we can already see that they never actually ran a "full read" DNA sequence on these samples. What they did do, and always do, is run a sample size read of easily identifiable DNA markers, or Spot reads, which totals 883,450 out of 133.4 million Bases. In other words, they have data points for 0.6% of the total DNA base pairs. That's exactly like claiming that you can magic up a duplicate clone of a plant because you have a photograph of the plant. To duplicate a plant you need 100% of it's code, so ALL 133,400,000 base pairs, every damn single one of them. You need all of them, because much of the DNA that doesn't directly code for proteins, codes for products that have other functions or codes for products that shield the functional DNA from mutation rates.
Even though Phylos didn't actually derive the full DNA sequence of these thousand samples they still published all their data. I've even called them before in the past to ask where I could obtain a full DNA read and the only 1 they ever paid another company to run was immediately published by them and is available on the NCBI website.
Let's have a look at the machine Phylos is using to run their DNA sequences, the Illumina NextSeq500.
It will only read out a maximum of 300 base pairs, which is like trying to reassemble a stained glass window from a giant pile of multicolored sand, but with the restriction that if too many of the grains of sand aren't in their original placement then the entire window just shatters into sand again. IF they purchased the PacBio system, which costs $350,000
, which they definitely can't afford, then they'd be able to run full sequences for about $5,000 per DNA run. If we set aside the $350,000 cost of buying the machine, then you still have to shell out five grand for a run. I can assure you that even I can find someone to steal a living clone of your plant for FAR less money.
Now I know there are going to be some non-science savvy people that are going to say, "But they already have a copy of the plant, I sent them that dead as dog shit piece of stem sample. They can just recreate my plant from that," except you'd be wrong. Once a cell dies there is no bringing it back. All cells have a complex system of triggers that cause the cell to break apart once it stops receiving the nutrients it needs to survive. (This is not apoptosis, but rather a run-away reaction caused by the materials & waste products inside the cell building up into a toxic cellular soup.) The only thing a scientist can do to "bring a cell back to life" is to transplant the DNA sequence, retrieved from a plant cell or reconstructed via biochemistry, into another living cells while removing the DNA sequence that the cells started with. This is exactly how animal cloning is done and it's massively expensive, $25,000. So, it's still cheaper to hire a thief.
The take away should be, Lock up your grow and stop freaking out about unfounded conspiracies.
Okay, enough with of my rant! Time to smoke some hash.
PS. The next guy that screams "Phylos is stealing my stuff," is going to have to show me how they're going to do that in a step-by-step manner, fully explaining the biochemistry involved, along with contact information for the companies that are going to supply the reconstructed DNA sequence, and a full explanation of how Phylos stealing their stuff is going to overcome a stringent cost-benefit analysis. I'll also need to see a full explanation of how they plan on overcoming the DNA read error rates that currently exist for DNA amplification machine they've chosen in their hypothetical scenario.