Industrial hemp's unexpected friends


About the research

Did you know that hemp is a promising, ecofriendly alternative for a wide range of products? Unfortunately, it's not easy to grow high-quality hemp that meets the industry requirements. That's why Leila Paquay (Universiteit Hasselt) turns to fungi and microbes to improve the growth of high-quality hemp.


Is hemp the same as marijuana?
Hemp and marijuana both belong to the genus Cannabis. Some scientists consider they are two different species while other believe they are different varieties of the species Cannabis Sativa. What is sure is that you cannot get high from hemp; you will die from smoke inhalation before you do. 

Indeed, hemp contain typically very low amount of THC, the molecule responsible for the psychotropic effects of marijuana. In Europe, the amount of THC in hemp is restricted to 0.2%. By comparison, it goes up to 30% in marijuana! 
To insure the respect of the legislation, European farmers are only authorized to grow varieties that have been approved by the EU. In addition, in Belgium, farmers must submit for a permit to grow hemp and the THC content is tested at flowering.

Leila Paquay

Leila Paquay allies her knowledge in ecology to her bioinformatics expertise gained during two masters, at ULiege and at KULeuven. Her current PhD research at UHasselt is grounded in her commitment to contribute to the emergence of a sustainable intensive agriculture: her research focuses on understanding how micro-organisms can help us in enhancing hemp fibre quality and yield.

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