Director of the Kew Innovation Unit, Deputy Keeper & Head of Sustainable Uses of Plants Group
- Conventions and Policies
- Drylands: Africa
- Large-Scale Syntheses
- Monocots I: General Alismatids & Lilioids
- Monocots II: Commelinids
- United Kingdom
Qualifications & Appointments
BSc (Hons), Univ. Leeds
PhD, Birkbeck College, Univ. London
Fellow Royal Society of Entomology
Fellow World Innovation Foundation
Fellow of the Society of Biology
Fellow of the Linnean Society
Editor-in-Chief, Biochemical Systematics and Ecology
Editorial Board, Phytochemistry, Phytotherapy Research, Physiological Entomology, Journal of Tropical Medicinal Plants, Natural Product Communications
Visiting Professor, Birkbeck College University of London, University of Greenwich and School of Pharmacy University of London.
Sustainable uses of plants; medicinal plants; plant–insect interactions; natural products, fungi, bio-control, economic botany, ethnobotany.
As Director of the Kew Innovation Unit I lead the co-ordination of cross-directorate projects that generate income for RBG Kew through the utilisation of the breath of expertise that RBG Kew staff have in different aspects of plant science and horticulture, based on their research of the diversity of the RBG Kew collections. My personal scientific research is focused on the research undertaken by the Sustainable Uses of Plants group. This includes research into the economic uses of plants/fungi, their potential as pharmaceutical and agrochemical leads, and as sources of sustainably-harvested products. This involves not only studying the chemistry of plants and fungi, the biological activities (e.g. diabetes, anti-microbial, HIV, anti-malarial, Alzheimer’s disease cancer, insecticidal, antifeedants and anti-inflammatory) of extracts and isolated compounds and using the new DNA based phylogenies to assist guide the selection of species, but also working with those growing the plants. The group also develops chemical authentication methods for use by companies, NGO’s, government bodies and by field workers to check the quality of plant-derived products being sold as medicines, cosmetics and functional foods. These projects often involve the development of practical aspects of benefit-sharing strategies with commercial and other collaborators that support plant conservation in developing countries. I have a keen research interest in furthering our understanding of the role plant-derived compounds play in plant-animal interactions, especially their role in the host selection behaviour of insects. This basic ecological knowledge can assist identification of plant-derived compounds that have use in pest control as well as in pharmaceutical research. Furthering our knowledge about the historical uses and potential new uses of plants assists support plant conservation and it is vital that there is dissemination of this knowledge in ways that engage with the public, especially the young. The majority of the work of this group is funded through research grants and commercial contracts.
- African Dryland Alliance for Pesticidal-Plant Technologies (ADAPPT)
- African Wild Harvest
- Africulture Centre
(project completed 2010)
- Authentication and Chemical Fingerprinting of Economically Important Species
- Diversity of Biologically Active Plants and Plant-Derived Compound
- Biodiversity Advice to Government
- Chemistry and Biological Activity of Myrtaceae
- Chemosystematics and Biological Activity of Alismatid and Lilioid Monocots
- Chemosystematics and biological activity of Lamiaceae
- Fungal metabolites
- Grass Evolution, Anti-Herbivory and Past Climate - COMPLETED 2008
- Importance of Legumes and Legume-Derived Compounds in Medicine and Agriculture
- Medicinal Plant Names Services
- Medicinal Uses of British Plants
- OpenUp! – Opening up the European natural history heritage for Europeana
- Plant Diversity Challenge: the Official UK Response to the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation
- Plant-Insect Interactions
- Plant Resources of Tropical Africa (PROTA)
- Salvia (Lamiaceae)
- Caesalpinioid woodlands of southern Africa: optimising the indigenous use of pesticidal plants (Southern African Pesticidal Plants project – SAPP)
(project completed 2009)
- Survey of Economic Plants for Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (SEPASAL)
- Systematic Phytochemistry of Legumes
- Systematic Phytochemical and Sustainable Use Studies in Malpighiales
- Systematics of Lamiaceae subfamily Viticoideae and allies
- Systematics, Sustainable Use and Conservation of Tribe Ocimeae (Basil and Allies, Lamiaceae)
Selected Recent Publications
Kite, G.C., Veitch, N.C., Boalch, M.E., Lewis, G.P., Leon, C.J. & Simmonds, M.S.J. (2009). Flavonol tetraglycosides from fruits of Styphnolobium japonicum (Leguminosae) and the authentication of Fructus Sophorae and Flos Sophorae. Phytochemistry 70:785–794.
Howes, M.-J.R., Kite, G.C. & Simmonds, M.S.J. (2009). Distinguishing Chinese star anise from Japanese star anise using thermal desorption-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. J. Agric. Food Chem. 57: 5783-5789.
Kite, G.C. Porter, E.A. & Simmonds, M.S.J. (2007). Chromatographic behaviour of steroidal saponins studied by high-performance liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry. Journal of Chromatography A 1148: 177–183.
Kokubun, T., Irwin, D., Legg, M., Veitch, N.C. & Simmonds, M.S.J. (2007) Serialynic acid, a new phenol with an isopentenyne side chain from Antrodia serialis. Journal of Antibiotics 60: 285–288.
Stevenson, P.C. Veitch, N.C. & Simmonds, M.S.J. (2007). Polyoxygenated cyclohexane derivatives and other constituents from Kaempferia rotunda L. Phytochemistry 68: 1579–1586.
Selected Earlier Publications
Howes, M.-J., Simmonds, M.S.J. & Kite, G.C. (2004). Evaluation of the quality of sandalwood essential oils by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Journal of Chromatography A 1028: 307-312.
Kite, G.C., Howes, M-J.R. & Simmonds, M.S.J. (2004). Metabolomic analysis of saponins in crude extracts of Quillaja saponaria by liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry for product authentication. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 18:2859-2870.
Simmonds, M.S.J., Jarvis, A.P., Johnson, S., Jones, G.R. & Morgan, E.D. (2004). Comparison of anti-feedant and insecticidal activity of nimbin and salannin photo-oxidation products with neem (Azadirachtin indica) limonoids. Pest Management Science 60: 459-464.
Kite, G.C., Howes, M.-J.R., Leon, C. & Simmonds, M.S.J. (2003). Liquid chromatography – mass spectrometry of malonyl-ginsenosides in the authentication of ginseng. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 17: 238-244.
Simmonds, M.S.J. & Stevenson, P.C. (2001). Effects of isoflavonoids from Cicer on larvae of Helicoverpa armigera. Journal of Chemical Ecology 27 965-977.