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Marks, Timothy

Job title: 

Plant Tissue Culture Specialist

Seed Conservation
Joined Kew: 


Qualifications and appointments: 
  • BSc (Hons) Hatfield Polytechnic, 1978
  • PhD, Univ. London, 1983
  • PGCE, Canterbury Christ Church University, 2005
  • Editorial board; South African Journal of Botany
  • IUCN SSC Orchid Specialist Group for the Quadrennium 2009-2012

Biotechnology of seed conservation to resolve desiccation tolerance and sensitivity, storage longevity, germination and dormancy in non-orthodox species.

The application of plant biotechnological to seed biology can assist in resolving the physiology underlying critical areas of concern for seed banking, namely: tolerance of seeds to desiccation, seed longevity under storage conditions and constraints to germination. Research focuses upon two key plant families of high socioeconomic values. Firstly, the Arecaceae (palms), in which the sensitivity to desiccation (recalcitrance) of some species impedes their conventional storage. Ongoing studies are characterising both whole seed and excised embryo morphology and associated physiology is being used to both understand the basis of recalcitrance, and to develop strategies for long-term germplasm storage incorporating cryopreservation. A phylogenetic relationship is sought to relate these characteristics to their adaptation to the natural environment. Secondly, research on the Orchidaceae (orchids) addresses the role of early nutrition during germination of their undifferentiated embryos, and the requirement for long-term storage, where water and oil properties are likely to interact with storage temperature to affect longevity.

Within these research areas, I have supervised one PhD, four MSc and four college-based sandwich course students, and visiting researchers. I have acted as an external examiner for PhD and Masters theses for UK Universities, and have editing and reviewing responsibilities for international plant science journals.

Selected publications: 

Hosomi, S.T., Custodio, C.C., Seaton, P.T., Marks, T.R. & Machado-Neto, N.B. (2011) Improved assessment of viability and germination of Cattleya (Orchidaceae) seeds following storage. In Vitro Celleular & Developmental Biology – Plant DOI 10.1007/s11627-011-9404-1 (IF=1.060).

Nadarajan, J., Wood. S., Marks. T.R., Seaton, P.T. & Pritchard, H.W. (2011) Nutritional requirements for in vitro seed germination of 12 terrestrial, lithophytic and epiphytic orchids. Journal of Tropical Forest Science 23: 204-212 (IF=0.5).

Hosomi, S.T., Santos, R.B., Custodio, C.C., Seaton, P.T., Marks, T.R. & Machado-Neto, N.B. (2011). Preconditioning Cattleya seeds to improve the efficacy of the tetrazolium test for viability. Seed Science and Technology 39: 178-189 (IF=0.605).

Seaton, P.T., Marks, T.R., Perner, H., Jijon, C. & Pritchard, H.W. (2009). Orchid seed banking takes off. Proceedings of the Second Scientific Conference on Andean Orchids (eds.) A.M. Pridgeon and J.B. Suarez. pp. 173-183.

Daws, M.I., Wood, C.B., Marks, T.R. & Pritchard, H.W. (2007). Desiccation sensitivity in the Arecaceae: Correlates and frequency. South African Journal of Botany 73: 483 (IF=1.106).