Hemp has been an important crop throughout human history for food, fiber, and medicine. Despite significant progress made by the international research community, the basic biology of hemp plants remains insufficiently understood. Clear objectives are needed to guide future research. As a semi-domesticated plant, hemp has many desirable traits that require improvement, including eliminating seed shattering, enhancing the quantity and quality of stem fiber, and increasing the accumulation of phytocannabinoids. Methods to manipulate the sex of hemp plants will also be important for optimizing yields of seed, fiber, and cannabinoids. Currently, research into trait improvement is hindered by the lack of molecular techniques adapted to hemp. Here we review how addressing these limitations will help advance our knowledge of plant biology and enable us to fully domesticate and maximize the agronomic potential of this promising crop.

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Published in Trends in Plant Science, v. 22, issue 11, p. 917-929.

© 2017 The Authors.

Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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This work is supported partially by the Harold R. Burton Endowed Professorship to L.Y. and by the National Science Foundation under Cooperative Agreement no. 1355438.

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Supplemental information associated with this article can be found online at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tplants.2017.08.004.

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