From Legacy Grower To Lab Leader: Sean Stidacks' DIY Journey In Cannabis Tissue Culture


In an exclusive interview with Benzinga Cannabis, Sean Stidacks, founder of Stidacks Genetics, shared his journey as a self-taught entrepreneur making waves in the cannabis industry. Originally from North Carolina, Sean moved to Rhode Island to pursue his passion for cannabis cultivation legally. "I moved up to Rhode Island from North Carolina, basically a legacy grower," he said.

Discovering Tissue Culture

Sean’s journey into tissue culture began in 2019 at a Gene Traders event. Intrigued by a vendor's display of plants in cups, he got into researching tissue culture, a technique unfamiliar to him despite his broad scientific interests.

Building Stidacks Genetics

His journey to establish Stidacks Genetics began with a keen interest in science and a talent for self-learning. He first encountered tissue culture at a Gene Traders event, where Cannomic Laboratories displayed plants growing inside cups.

"They had a couple of plants inside some cups, and I had never seen this before, so I was very intrigued. Pretty blown away by what I was looking at because I was like, how is this possible? They explained that it was tissue culture, so I bought two samples from them. I went home and just spent the rest of the evening doing research on tissue culture, trying to figure out what this was. Come to find out, it had been around since the early 1900s," Sean explained.

“Once I finished my studies, I went ahead and ordered, a tissue culture kit from PhytoTech Labs,” he told Benzinga.

Facing initial financial challenges, Stidacks found a unique opportunity when Cannomic Laboratories hired him, allowing him to gain hands-on experience without the usual training costs. "I ended up getting paid for them to train me versus me paying them," he said. This experience paved the way for him to start his lab, offering tissue culture services to other growers.

The Process Of Tissue Culture

Stidacks' approach to tissue culture begins with maintaining a sterile environment, essential for the success of this delicate process. This setup typically includes specific equipment such as flow hoods to ensure a clean workspace. "You got to have some equipment preferably a flow hood," he emphasized. The primary goal is to prevent any contamination that could harm the plant samples during their growth stages.

The tissue culture process starts by taking small samples from a parent plant. These samples are often tiny sections of plant stems. Once sterilized, the samples are placed into media storage jars or beakers containing an agar-based growth medium. This medium, similar in consistency to Jell-O, is enriched with nutrients and plant hormones that facilitate growth. Stidacks explained. "As the plant samples grow in the agar medium, they develop roots through a balance of hormones present in the medium. Cytokinins promote shoot growth, while auxins encourage root development.

“Over several weeks, these small samples gradually transform into larger, viable plants ready for transplantation,” he continued.

Advantages And Challenges

Tissue culture offers several benefits over traditional soil methods, making it particularly attractive for both commercial growers and pharmaceutical applications. One of the primary advantages is the significant reduction in contamination risk. By growing plants in a sterile environment, the likelihood of introducing pests or diseases is minimized, ensuring healthier plants and higher yields.

Another key benefit is the ability to efficiently produce large quantities of plants. Stidacks highlighted the efficiency of his operation. "I operate upwards of about 350 to 400 plants per day." This high productivity is crucial for meeting the demands of large-scale cultivation, whether for recreational cannabis markets or for producing consistent and reliable plant material for pharmaceutical use.

However, tissue culture is not without its challenges. It requires a significant initial investment in specialized equipment. Additionally, maintaining precise protocols is essential to achieve high success rates. The process demands meticulous attention to managing growth conditions in vitro. Despite these challenges, the benefits of tissue culture make it a valuable method for advancing cannabis cultivation and meeting the stringent standards of the pharmaceutical industry.

Educational Outreach

Stidacks is committed to making tissue culture accessible to enthusiasts and home growers. He is developing an online platform to teach these techniques affordably. "I'm working on hopefully presenting an online platform to teach people," he said, emphasizing the importance of understanding the scientific principles involved.

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Photo: AI-Generated Image. 

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Posted In: BiotechCannabisNewsEntrepreneurshipSuccess StoriesStartupsSmall BusinessExclusivesMarketsInterviewGeneralCannomic LaboratoriesGene TradersPhytoTech LabsSean StidacksStidacks Genetics
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