Kew's Science Projects
Kew scientists are involved in hundreds of scientific projects of varying scales ranging from individual PhD research programmes to large-scale network endeavours involving more than 40 institutional partners, across several continents. These project profiles document all our significant science projects (whether externally or internally funded).
Successful seed germination of a rare palm in the laboratory can help to conserve its dwindling population in the wild.
Accelerating the production of a list of all the world's plant species
The International Plant Names Index (IPNI) is a database of the names of all seed plants, ferns and fern allies with bibliographic reference to the place of first publication of each name. It is the authority for plant names, feeding this information into other biodiversity informatics projects.
To analyse the physical properties, morphology and germination physiology of large seeds, and to synthesise a relationship between these attributes and their habitats in relation to desiccation tolerance.
Provision of an authoritative reference work on isoflavonoids of the Leguminosae with an emphasis on their chemosystematic, ecological, and economic significance.
The Kew Madagascar Conservation Centre (KMCC) is leading on the creation of a new 273 km² protected area in the central highlands.
A reassessment for the IUCN Red List of all conifers.
Documenting key endemic, threatened and invasive taxa and producing a Biodiversity Action Plan for the Cayman Islands
Research on inter-species hybrids including crop plants generated new important insights into evolutionary chromosome dynamics, and novel genotypes along with the know-how for maintenance and application.
(project completed 2004)
Studying karyotype evolution in the mustard family (Brassicaceae)
(project ended 2008)
A database of over 200,000 references of taxonomic interest published from 1971-2007
Building capacity for botanical research and conservation in Latin America
The Southeast Asian species of Lamiaceae are being studied for four major flora projects: Flora Malesiana, Flora of Thailand, Flora of Peninsular Malaysia and Tree Flora of Sabah and Sarawak.
Delivering Kew’s unique Latin American collections online
The legumes are a diverse and economically important family with some species being major crops vital to human nutrition. Scientific research into the seed traits of grain legumes and their wild relatives is a significant part of Kew’s seed research programme.
Legumes of the World Online (LOWO) is intended to be a one-stop-shop for legume information. Using the 2005 publication Legumes of the World as a generic backbone, other legume data sets have been added or linked to provide a web-based global legume information resource that can be easily and regularly updated with newly published legume science.
Specimen data from Liberian plant surveys, latterly undertaken by botanists at the University of Wageningen, has been used to identify concentrations of endemic, near-endemic and Red Data species that co-occur with surviving natural vegetation, and also, the identification of under-collected areas.
Light-mediated germination is a feature of a broad range of species with small (<1 mg) seeds and is under the control of phytochrome. However, an unusual phenomenon of dark-mediated dormancy release has been observed in some seeds.
RBG Kew with Limbe Botanic Gardens, Cameroon, seek the means to rescue some of the threatened endemic forest species found on Mount Cameroon.
Most plants in a botanic garden are grown not only for their aesthetic beauty but also for their scientific value. Therefore correct and up-to-date labelling is essential to enable the collection to be used for research, and also to inform the public of the correct usage of names.
To define optimal sub-zero seed storage temperatures for maximum recovery.
An assessment of the conservation status of Madagascar’s orchid species, and implementation of a conservation strategy incorporating in-situ and ex-situ measures.
Project purpose: to develop locally adapted and low-input agroforestry models, emphasising sustainable soil management and native species, that offer communities viable alternatives to slash and burn agriculture, help to sequester carbon and restore productivity, forest cover and biodiversity on deforested land.
The Kew GIS Unit is working with the Kew Madagascar Conservation Centre (KMCC) to develop cutting-edge tools and data resources to drive forward biodiversity research and conservation in Madagascar.
Kew's contribution to regional and local Latin American Floras
This project investigates the evolution of pollen and tapetal characters in the recalcitrant order Malpighiales, and aims to contribute to improving our understanding of phylogenetic relationships within the order.
The Malpighiales Scratchpad is a social networking tool to build, share and publish information on the diversity of the Malpighiales.
Training Brazilian botanical artists
The Mediterranean is one of the world’s most biodiverse regions with 25,000 different plant species. This flora is critically threatened from human development and requires urgent protection. The Mediterranean Seed Conservation Partnership is aiming to safeguard the region’s plants.
The Medicinal Plant Names Services will facilitate research and lead to more effective healthcare by providing a free and authoritative online resource for medicinal plant names, and additional services for the health, research and regulatory authorities.
Research into the traditional and modern day uses of the UK flora.
This is the seventh book in a series of Plant Conservation Checklists for Cameroon. It describes the 863 species and varieties of flowering plant and fern discovered so far in the semi-deciduous and evergreen forests of the proposed Mefou National Park in Central Region, just south of the capital, Yaoundé, near the edge of the S Cameroon Plateau.
Most legume taxa release pollen as single grains (monads), but pollen of the legume subfamily Mimosoideae is known to largely occur in coherent groups of pollen grains (polyads). This study examines structure, development, systematic significance, ecology and evolution of pollen polyads in the legume subfamily Mimosoideae.
Uncovering the evolutionary history of the quintessential tropical rainforest family.
Metabolic rate, viscosity of the cytoplasm, and membrane fluidity play a role in seed dormancy.
This project will improve our systematic knowledge of the fungus-farming ant mutualistic family Pterulaceae by identifying phylogenetically informative loci and improving taxon sampling.
Comparative and evolution studies on flowers and inflorescences in monocots
Work on the morphology and development of monocot pollen and tapetum has provided insights into the evolution of these characters and contributes to our understanding of relationships among the monocots.
This project will digitise all monocots, c. 20% of the flowering plants. Monocots contain plant taxa of the highest conservation, ecological and economic importance, such as orchids, grasses, sedges and palms and provide 75% of human nutrition.
Re-evaluating morphological innovations in the economically important grass order (Poales), including reproductive structures.