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Wilkin, Paul

Job title: 

Head, Natural Capital and Plant Health

Natural Capital and Plant Health
Joined Kew: 


Foreign languages: 

functional French, basic Spanish.

Qualifications and appointments: 
  • BA, Natural Sciences, Cambridge, 1987
  • MSc, Pure & Applied Plant Taxonomy, Univ. Reading, 1988
  • PhD, Univ. Reading, 1993.
  • Member of Palynology Specialist Group, Linnaean Society
  • Council & Newsletter Editor, Systematics Association (2002-2005).

I am Head of the Natural Capital and Plant Health Department, which investigates the value of plant and fungal diversity to humankind and how it underpins provisioning, supporting and regulating ecosystem services.

My personal research is primarily on yams (Dioscorea), a genus that provides both dietary starch for millions and secondary compounds of considerable economic importance. It currently incorporates taxonomy, systematics, conservation and metabolomics approaches. I use methods including phylogenetics and population genetics to investigate crop, crop wild relative and edible/wild yam diversity with a view to improved livelihoods and economic innovation. I also work on other wild and cultivated plant diversity and have a strong interest in biodiversity informatics.

Selected publications: 

Schols, P., Wilkin, P., Furness, C.A., Huysmans, S. & Smets, E. (2005). Pollen evolution in yams (Dioscorea, Dioscoreaceae). Systematic Botany 30 (4) 750–758.

Wilkin, P., Schols, P., Chase, M.W., Chayamarit, K., Furness, C.A., Huysmans, S., Rakotonasolo, F., Smets, E. & Thapyai, C. (2005). A plastid gene phylogeny of the yam genus, Dioscorea: roots, fruits and madagascar.Systematic Botany 30 (4):736–749.

Caddick, L.R., Rudall, P.J., Wilkin, P., Hedderson, T.A.J. & Chase, M.W. (2002). Phylogenetics of Dioscoreales Based on Combined Analyses of Morphological and Molecular Data. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 138(2): 123-144.

Caddick, L.R., Wilkin, P., Rudall, P.J., Hedderson, T.A.J. & Chase, M.W. (2002). Yams reclassified: a recircumscription of Dioscoreaceae and Dioscoreales. Taxon 51 (1) 103-114.

Wilkin, P. (2001). Yams of South-Central Africa. Kew Bulletin 56(2): 361-404.