The phyllosphere is a term used to refer to the microbiological community found on plants above ground (as opposed to the rhizosphere). Scientists are still uncertain where the majority of species found in the phyllosphere even come from (1st article). The general assumption that they come from local environment seems to hold true – “plastic” (fake) plants tend to get similar microbiological communities as their real counterparts when located in the same vicinity. Only a few species are unique.
That’s where the second article comes in. As I’m sure you’re all aware, flowering is when the magic happens when you’re growing cannabis. The flowers are where we get all the good stuff. And flowers emit terpenes, the lovely scents we’re familiar with. Plants don’t emit terpenes because it seems like a good idea though. The terpenes are emitted to attract pollinators such as bees and hummingbirds.
Well, surprise! The phyllospheric bacteria I mentioned earlier seem to play a key role in what terpenes are emitted. Fumigating plants with antibiotics to remove the phyllospheric bacteria resulted in a marked decline (2/3rds) in terpene emission.
If you combine these two articles together, it tells me that the flavor profile found in cannabis may be largely determined by where the cannabis is grown, possibly more than the cultivar/strain itself.
I want to try an experiment now – grow several plants from the same mother across the country and see how the terpenes stack up in a lab. I’d also be curious to see if growing in different parts of a city would affect the phyllospheric community. It also brings up the proposition of shipping dirt – if you ship dirt from another part of the country, will the microbiological community found on it change the phyllospheric bacteria?