By: Allison O’Brien
Emily Mutch knew from a young age that one day she wanted to work with plants.
However she never dreamed that when that day came, she would be conducting innovative research in the cannabis industry.
Mutch is the manager of the tissue and culture lab at FIGR, a cannabis production facility in PEI that crafts high-quality cannabis for PEI and Nova Scotia.
“My research involves learning to incorporate tissue culturing into the cannabis facility at FIGR,” said Mutch.
Tissue culturing is used to clone plants that have particularly good genetics using a method called micropropagation. In a sterile environment, a small section of plant material such as a nodal stem is cleaned and placed in a growth medium where it grows into plants and is then multiplied.
“It’s a very common procedure in agriculture and horticulture industries, many potatoes and ornamental flowers are produced through tissue culturing. And it’s applicable in the cannabis industry too,” said Mutch.
FIGR has been growing and selling medical cannabis since 2016, but agriculture is no new venture for the licensed cannabis producers. They’ve got roots in farming on the Island that date back over 150 years.
“Tissue culturing can be very helpful at FIGR for maintaining particular and ideal genetics. It’s good if one plant grows better than another in an environment, or if there is a type of genetic you want to maintain.”
Mutch says that the connections she made with her biology professors at UPEI were what set her up for success after graduation.
“If there is a particular area of the sciences that you are really drawn to, don’t be afraid to direct a lot of your courses in that direction and put the effort in to get to know your professors.Â Reach out to them, theyâ€™re people too, and they appreciate when students reach out to them.”