Farmako, a biotech firm based in Frankfurt, Germany, filed an international patent for the genetically-modified microorganisms in February. The bacteria, Zymomonas mobilis, is one of the key ingredients for manufacturing tequila. In the tequila-making process, the bacteria convert glucose — or sugar — into booze.
Farmako’s weedy version of the bug, which it dubbed Zymomonas cannabinoidis, turns sugar into THC. Or CBD. Or any of the 100+ cannabinoids found in cannabis.
"With one production run, we can produce cannabinoids for 900 hours without interruption,” said Farmako’s co-founder and Chief Science Officer, Patrick Schmitt, in a press release. “For example, 4.5 kilograms of THC are produced per gram of bacterial mass during this time.”
To create Z. cannabinoidis, Farmako’s scientists used molecular scissors to snip out the genes responsible for making alcohol. The missing DNA segments were replaced with genes for individual cannabinoids.