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).

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In Vitro Propagation of Café Marron (Ramosmania rodriguesii, Rubiaceae)

In Vitro Conservation of Bottle Palm (Hyophorbe lagenicaulis (L. Bailey) H.E. Moore)

Successful seed germination of a rare palm in the laboratory can help to conserve its dwindling population in the wild.


iPlants (project completed 2006)

Accelerating the production of a list of all the world's plant species


International Plant Names Index (IPNI)

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.


Is Seed Sensitivity to Desiccation a Matter of Size?

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.


Isoflavonoids of the Leguminosae

Provision of an authoritative reference work on isoflavonoids of the Leguminosae with an emphasis on their chemosystematic, ecological, and economic significance.


Itremo Massif Protected Area Project

The Kew Madagascar Conservation Centre (KMCC) is leading on the creation of a new 273 km² protected area in the central highlands.


IUCN Red List Reassessment of Conifers

A reassessment for the IUCN Red List of all conifers.


In Ivan's Wake: a Darwin Initiative Biodiversity Action Plan for the Cayman Islands - Project completed (2005-08)

Documenting key endemic, threatened and invasive taxa and producing a Biodiversity Action Plan for the Cayman Islands


Karyological consequences of remote inter-species cross-hybridisations

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.


Karyotype Evolution in Crucifers (Brassicaceae)
(project completed 2004)

Studying karyotype evolution in the mustard family (Brassicaceae)


Kew Record of Taxonomic Literature
(project ended 2008)

A database of over 200,000 references of taxonomic interest published from 1971-2007


Kew Latin American Research Fellowships

Building capacity for botanical research and conservation in Latin America


The Plants of Kupe, Mwanenguba and the Bakossi Mountains, Cameroon: A Conservation Checklist

Southeast Asian Floristics: Lamiaceae

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.


Latin American Plants Initiative

Delivering Kew’s unique Latin American collections online


Survival of Legume Seeds

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

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.


Liberia GIS: National Plant Conservation Prioritisation

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 and Seed Germination in Diverse Taxa

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.


Limbe Botanic Gardens, Cameroon: Search and Rescue of the Threatened Species of Mount Cameroon

RBG Kew with Limbe Botanic Gardens, Cameroon, seek the means to rescue some of the threatened endemic forest species found on Mount Cameroon.


Living Collection Virtual Herbarium

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.


Long-term Storage of Orthodox Seeds

To define optimal sub-zero seed storage temperatures for maximum recovery.


Madagascar Orchid Conservation Project

An assessment of the conservation status of Madagascar’s orchid species, and implementation of a conservation strategy incorporating in-situ and ex-situ measures.


Madagascar Agroforestry Livelihoods Project

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.


Madagascar GIS

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.


Madagascar Threatened Plants Project - COMPLETED

Major Latin American Floras

Kew's contribution to regional and local Latin American Floras


Malpighiales pollen evolution

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.


Malpighiales Scratchpad

The Malpighiales Scratchpad is a social networking tool to build, share and publish information on the diversity of the Malpighiales.


Margaret Mee Fellowship Programme

Training Brazilian botanical artists


Ensuring the survival of endangered plants in the Mediterranean - Mediterranean Seed Conservation Partnership (MAVA Project)

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.


Medicinal Plant Names Services

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.


Medicinal Plants of the Middle East - COMPLETED 2011

Medicinal Uses of British Plants

Research into the traditional and modern day uses of the UK flora.


The Plants of Mefou Proposed National Park, Yaoundé, Cameroon: A Conservation Checklist

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.


Evolution of Mimosoid Legume Pollen

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.


Molecular phylogenetics of Euphorbiaceae sensu lato - COMPLETED 2008

Systematics and Evolution of Palms

Uncovering the evolutionary history of the quintessential tropical rainforest family.


Molecular phylogenetics of Tribe Phyllantheae (Phyllanthaceae) - COMPLETED 2008

Molecular and Biophysical Dissection of Changes in Seed Dormancy and the Role of Chemical Stimulants

Metabolic rate, viscosity of the cytoplasm, and membrane fluidity play a role in seed dormancy.


Molecular systematics of the enigmatic attine-ant mutualistic coral mushroom family Pterulaceae

This project will improve our systematic knowledge of the fungus-farming ant mutualistic family Pterulaceae by identifying phylogenetically informative loci and improving taxon sampling.


Monocot Checklist-Project Completed

Monocot Floral Evolution

Comparative and evolution studies on flowers and inflorescences in monocots


Monocot Pollen Evolution

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.


Electronic cataloguing and imaging of monocot type specimens

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.


Monograph of Octoknema (Octoknemaceae-Olacaceae)

Monograph of Nepenthaceae

Monograph of Omphalocarpum (Sapotaceae)

Morphological Innovations in Poales

Re-evaluating morphological innovations in the economically important grass order (Poales), including reproductive structures.



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