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Fay, Michael F.

Job title: 

Head of Genetics

Joined Kew: 


Foreign languages: 

French, Spanish, Welsh

Qualifications and appointments: 
  • BSc (Hons), Univ. Wales (Aberystwyth), 1981
  • PhD, Univ. Wales, 1989
  • Bicentenary Medal, Linnean Society, 2000
  • Chair, IUCN-SSC Orchid Specialist Group; Reintroduction Specialist Group
  • Member, UK Biodiversity Research Advisory Group (UKBRAG)
  • Council, Linnean Society of London (2003-2007, 2008-2011)
  • Vice President, Linnean Society of London (2009-present)
  • Editorial Boards: Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society (Editor-in-Chief), Kew Scientist (Editor), Annals of Botany, Curtis's Botanical Magazine, Kew Magazine
  • Founding Editor: Botanic Gardens Micropropagation News (1990-1995)

Conservation genetics, phylogenetics and genome research

Collecting genetic data (DNA fingerprint and sequences) to provide information that is used to help inform conservation of rare species. Much of this work relates to the UK and is carried out in collaboration with the statutory conservation agencies, but some relates to plants from elsewhere, eg St Helena, Spain, Brazil. Orchids form a major focus of these studies.

Phylogenetic studies mostly focus on monocots, with Asparagales and Liliales being major interests. Placement of rare or enigmatic taxa and assessment of species delimitation are areas of overlap between conservation genetics and phylogenetics.

Genome research includes coordination of studies on evolution of genome structure and size using a range of cytogenetic and molecular techniques. The evolution of the largest angiosperm genomes is currently a major focus, notably in Liliaceae and Melanthiaceae.

Selected publications: 
Paun, O., Bateman, R. M., Fay, M. F., Luna J. A., Moat, J., Hedrén, M. & Chase, M. W. (2011). Altered gene expression and ecological divergence in sibling allopolyploids of Dactylorhiza (Orchidaceae). BMC Evol. Biol. 11: 113 (doi:10.1186/1471-2148-11-113).
Pellicer, J., Fay, M. F. & Leitch, I. J. (2010). The largest eukaryote genome of them all? Bot. J. Linn. Soc. 164: 10-15.

Leitch, I. J., Beaulieu, J. M., Chase, M. W., Leitch, A. R. & Fay, M. F. (2010). Genome size dynamics and evolution in monocots. J. Bot. 2010: Article ID 862516, 18 pages, doi:10.1155/2010/862516.

Micheneau, C., Duffy, K. J., Smith, R. J., Stevens L. J., Stout, J. C., Civeyrel, L., Cowan, R. S. & Fay, M. F. (2010). Plastid microsatellites for the study of genetic variability in the widespread Cephalanthera longifolia, C. damasonium and C. rubra (Neottieae, Orchidaceae), and cross amplification in other Cephalanthera species. Bot. J. Linn. Soc. 163: 181-193.
APG III. (2009). An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG III. Bot. J. Linn. Soc. 161: 105-121.

Current projects