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Conservation Genetics of UK Plants

Fingerprinting rare UK plants to inform conservation decisions

The Conservation Genetics group uses genetic fingerprinting techniques such as plastid and nuclear microsatellites, amplified fragment length polymorphisms and DNA sequencing to investigate questions relating to issues such as hybridization, species delimitation and genetic variability within and between populations of a species. The outcome of these studies is used to inform practical conservation management of threatened taxa.

The UK projects are chosen in close collaboration with the statutory conservation agencies, notably English Nature and other groups in RBG Kew such as the Conservation Biotechnology section and Seed Conservation department. The taxa targeted are ones for which genetic data will have a clear application in deciding management strategies such as which are the most appropriate plants to use for reintroduction to a given site or for micropropagation to bulk up numbers of a plant; for example Carex depauperata, Cypripedium calceolus, Hieracium species, Orchis species, Dactylorhiza viridis, Pseudorchis albida and Sorbus species. The work on Orchidaceae is covered in more detail under the separate project 'Population genetics of UK orchids'

Results from our studies are fed back to the relevant agency/agencies in the form of conservation genetics reports, with recommendations for management changes in light of the genetic data when appropriate. Some studies are also published in peer-reviewed journals.

Project partners and collaborators


National Museums and Galleries of Wales

Project funders


English Nature