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Kew Science blog

Explore some of the research and activities of our global science and conservation programmes. Keep up to date with current developments in Kew science and science policy.
Photo of Sarah Barlow controlling Rana remotely via a web interface
29th August 2014

Do alkaloids in nectar enhance pollination?

Sarah Barlow (Plant Ecologist) and Phil Stevenson (Natural Products Chemist), from Kew’s Jodrell Laboratory, report recent research on the role of floral alkaloids in the pollination of monkshood (Aconitum spp.)
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22nd August 2014

Building a climate resilient coffee economy for Ethiopia

Aaron Davis describes how Kew scientists are helping to build a climate resilient coffee economy strategy for Ethiopia via a rigorous assessment of the influence of climate change on coffee-producing areas and wild coffee forests.
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Alder seed collections ready to put in the dry room at the Millennium Seed Bank (Photo: S. Kallow)
14th August 2014

Saving the UK’s tree seeds: a resource for science

The UK National Tree Seed Project (UKNTSP) is working to better understand and conserve seeds from the UK’s woody flora. The project will build a national ex situ seed collection that is both genetically comprehensive and comprises sufficient seeds to support research and conservation.
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Poppies
4th August 2014

A tale of two poppies

James Wearn, leading a project called ‘Kew Gardens at War’, describes how one poppy helped to keep pain away during wartime while another poppy lets us remember and reflect on the pain and sorrow of war.
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Photo of gallery forest in Madagascar
30th July 2014

Mycorrhizal research supports orchid conservation in Madagascar

Madagascar is home to more than 1,000 species of orchid of which about 90% are endemic. Kew’s Head of Conservation Biotechnology, Viswambharan Sarasan, describes progress in the identification of orchid mycorrhizae, and how this could help future orchid conservation and restoration programmes.
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21st July 2014

Plants: From Roots to Riches

Kew's Director of Science, Professor Kathy Willis, describes the BBC Radio 4 series Plants: From Roots to Riches, which goes to air today at 1.45pm. The series provides a unique examination of the major breakthroughs in botanical science, as seen through the lens of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
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Photo of dried porcini in a shop in Italy
4th July 2014

Discovering new species of porcini using food, phylogenetics and fieldwork

New species of porcini are turning up in all sorts of locations, from tropical Australia to your local food market. Kew's Head of Mycology, Bryn Dentinger, describes how these discoveries are helping to unveil the origins of porcini and their complex evolutionary history.
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Photo of laboratory apparatus collecting leaf exudate from aloe leaves in the Jodrell Laboratory
23rd June 2014

Unravelling the evolutionary history of Aloe vera and its relatives

Plantasia, Kew’s summer festival celebrating the positive effects of plants, is underway. Researcher Olwen Grace highlights investigations in the Jodrell Laboratory on Aloe vera, one of the most widely used plant species in the world today, and other aloes.
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Photo of Rhododendron malayanum (Ericacaeae) from Southeast Asia
13th June 2014

Kew’s new Tropical Plant Identification Handbook

A new book written by botanists from Kew’s Herbarium aims to convey information about tropical plant families in an easy-to-use and accessible format. Timothy Utteridge, Head of the South-East Asia Team and generalist botanist in Kew’s Herbarium, describes how the book was developed.
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Image of a pollen grain from Passiflora lobata
3rd June 2014

How quickly do tropical forests recover from disturbance?

Disturbance is not a new phenomenon in tropical forests, yet we know relatively little about how these systems have responded to perturbations in the past. Palaeoecologist Lydia Cole describes her recent research comparing relative forest recovery rates across tropical regions, disturbance types and frequencies of perturbation through time.
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Photo of the Critically endangered Dypsis acaulis, discovered during a Kew expedition to north-east Madagascar and known only from a handful of individuals in an unprotected forest fragment
22nd May 2014

Island plant diversity: endangered and under-explored

This year’s International Day for Biological Diversity highlights the uniqueness of island biodiversity and the threats it faces, yet so much of island diversity remains essentially unknown. Assistant Keeper of Kew’s Herbarium and palm expert Bill Baker makes the case for Kew’s work on island plant exploration.
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Image of herbarium specimen of Guianodendron praeclarum
16th May 2014

New skeleton found in Herbarium cupboard

Research phytochemist Geoffrey Kite describes the discovery of a quinolizidine alkaloid with a novel carbon skeleton in a Kew herbarium specimen.
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Photo collage of a selection of specimen sheets from Kew’s herbarium collections.
9th May 2014

Plants to pixels: enhancing access to Kew’s herbarium collections

As the proportion of Kew’s herbarium specimens accessible online passes a significant milestone, we highlight how researchers and the wider public can explore and interact with these remarkable, and largely hidden, collections.
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Image showing some of the many products sold containing ‘ginseng’. Some of these have scientific names listed on the packaging, but this is not always the case.
2nd May 2014

The medicinal plant names maze

Liz Dauncey, Business Development Officer for Kew’s Medicinal Plant Names Services, tells us how their work enables safer and more effective communication by those using medicinal plants.
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Photo of Michele Sanchez with a Caicos pine
25th April 2014

Rescuing the threatened Caicos pine in the Turks and Caicos Islands

A new Darwin Plus project will take further steps to rescue the threatened Caicos pine from local extinction by guiding its future conservation based on science, experience and a long-term collaboration between Kew and Turks and Caicos Islands partner institutions.
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Photo of Passiflora phoenicea
11th April 2014

A passion for passion flowers

Gerhard Prenner, researcher in plant morphology and anatomy, presents his recent ontogenetic study on one of the passion flowers, Passiflora lobata. He reveals insights about its peculiar flowers and highlights the Easter connection of the genus Passiflora.
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Photo of Amborella trichopoda, endemic to New Caledonia
1st April 2014

Southeast Asia as a cradle of early flowering plant diversification

Sven Buerki, from Kew’s Jodrell Laboratory, discusses the idea that islands located in the region today occupied by South-East Asia played a major role in the early diversification of flowering plants.
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24th March 2014

Using pesticidal plants for crop protection

Phil Stevenson, from Kew's Jodrell Laboratory, reports on how small holder farmers in Africa use wild plants to control pests and how his new projects are helping optimise their use and reduce pressure on wild habitats
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14th March 2014

The Nagoya Protocol comes a step closer to fruition

China Williams, from Kew’s Conventions and Policy Section, reports on the latest international meeting to discuss a new legally binding regime governing access to genetic resources and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits – the Nagoya Protocol.
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Photo inside the Herbarium at Kew
7th March 2014

What's in a collection? The Herbarium at Kew

William Milliken, Head of Kew's Tropical America team, examines the importance of Kew's collection of over seven million herbarium specimens, and how this resource is being used to tackle the global challenges of our time.
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