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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CITES-Listed Timbers

A suite of initiatives aimed at ensuring accurate timber identification for enforcement and policy purposes and the use of this expertise when advising on CITES timber policy and enforcement.


CITES Trade Research

Research into trade in species that are listed on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) or are potential candidates for such listing.


CITES: UK Scientific Authority

Implementing Kew’s role as the UK Scientific Authority for Plants under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)


Clerodendrum and related genera (Lamiaceae) of Southeast Asia

Systematics of Clerodendrum and related genera (Lamiaceae): clarifying generic limits and completing revisions for tropical Asian floras and for horticultural applications.


Climate Change Science Policy

Following external policy drivers to help to guide relevant Kew science programmes to address climate change.


Climate Change, Species Vulnerability and Germination Thresholds

The temperature and salinity limits to germination can be modelled and used as predictive tools to assess the impact of climate change on seed germination.


Coastal Forests of Northern Mozambique

Along with our Mozambican partners, detailed plant and vegetation surveys were done of coastal dry forests in northern Mozambique. High levels of endemism and numerous new species were discovered. The extent of dry forest was much less than previously thought, which was brought to the attention of the Mozambican authorities, resulting in a number of conservation initiatives.


Co-Evolution at the Plant-Animal Interface
(project completed 2010)

Understanding the role that animals have played in driving plant speciation,


Coffee Phylogeny Project

A project aimed at understanding the relationships and evolution of coffee species using DNA technologies. Providing a framework for research, conservation and sustainability of this important crop.  


Collecting the Flora of Bulgaria

Collecting seed from the flora of Bulgaria, for conservation in the Millennium Seed Bank.


Collecting the Flora of Kyrgyzstan

Collecting seed from the flora of Kyrgyzstan, for conservation in the country of origin and at the Millennium Seed Bank. The collections in-country have been used to research potential medicinal properties.


Revision of the genus Colletotrichum

Colletotrichum is an economically important genus of plant pathogens, causing substantial losses and postharvest damage to a wide range of crops, especially in the tropics. Modern phylogenetic analysis is revealing many new species of Colletotrichum, and providing insights into speciation processes.


Community botany in the Amazon

Building capacity for sustainable community resource management and conservation on the Xixuaú river, Brazil


Compositae of Brazil

Providing an updated, fully synonymized, annotated checklist of the Compositae of Brazil, available online and in print


Congo (Brazzaville): Surveys and Capacity Building

Since 2009, RBG Kew has undertaken vegetation surveys and capacity building in Congo (Brazzaville), with the partnership of CERVE - Herbier National and University Marien Ngouabi. 


Conservation Checklist of the Trees of Uganda

The first conservation checklist for East Africa will deal with some 800 tree species; each species is assessed for its conservation status, and those in the Vulnerable or Endangered categories will be given a full treatment with local names, uses, maps and images.


Conservation Assessment and Red listing of European Orchids

The first Red List assignment of European orchids


Conservation Assessment Tracking System (CATS)

RBG Kew performs around two thousand of conservation assessments every year – a key component of Kew's Breathing Planet Programme Strategy 2 (identifying highly threatened species and regions). A system is being developed to streamline the process of gathering and disseminating this data to get maximum impact for conservation.


Conservation of the Cerrados of Eastern Bolivia

Identification of important plant species, habitats and areas within the cerrado biome of the Chiquitania region


Conservation of the Eastern Africa Afromontane Flora

To assess the conservation status of the Afromontane flora in Eastern Africa and provide strategies to conserve threatened species through ex-situ seed banking and species restoration.


Ex situ Conservation of the Flora of the Caucasus

The purpose of this project is the ex situ conservation of the flora of the Caucasus, with the majority of the work to date carried out in Georgia. All targeted species are conserved as seed bank collections and some have also been propagated.


Conservation Genetics of UK Plants

Fingerprinting rare UK plants to inform conservation decisions


Consider the Lilies

Publication of a book to interpret recent changes in the classification of lilioid monocots


Conservation and monitoring of Meso-American orchids - COMPLETED 2008

County Durham Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary project

Restoring the larval food plant of the small pearl-boarded fritillary


Cactus Seed Biology Database

An international project to produce a comprehensive summary of cactus seed biology from experimental research and from the literature (both published and institutional reports), to enhance understanding and conservation of this socio-economic important family.


Maternal Environment and Provenance Effects on Seed Longevity (Project completed 2011)

Cryo-conservation Centres of Excellence

Long-term storage of difficult (non-orthodox) seeds and plant tissues will be dependent on the application of low temperature science, particularly cryopreservation, which provides options for the storage of seeds, embryos, shoot-tips and totipotent cells.


Evolution of flowers and inflorescences in Euphorbiaceae

This project investigates the morphology, ontogeny and evolution of the remarkable flower-like inflorescences of Euphorbiaceae


An integrated approach to Cyrtandra (Gesneriaceae)

Cyrtandra is the largest genus in the Gesneriaceae (African Violet family), with an estimated 600+ species: we aim to further our knowledge of the genus through taxonomic and phylogenetic study, continuing the work that has already shown Cyrtandra to be a model genus for answering critical biological questions.


The Dalbergioid Legumes (Leguminosae: Papilionoideae)

Systematics, taxonomy, floristics, biogeography and uses of Dalbergioid legume genera.


Darwin Initiative Assessment of the Coastal Biodiversity of Anegada, British Virgin Islands - Project completed (2003-06)

Assessing the coastal biodiversity of Anegada to support the development of a Biodiversity Action Plan for the island


Monitoring and Managing Biodiversity Loss in South-East Africa's Montane Ecosystems
(project completed 2009)

This project looked at a series of isolated mountains across north-central Mozambique and southern Malawi, surveying vegetation, plant and bird species. A number of new species were discovered, and the public profile and conservation importance of these areas was significantly raised with the Mozambique government and internationally, resulting in follow-up conservation projects.


UK Darwin Initiative Papuan Plant Diversity - COMPLETED 2006

Database of Kew’s holdings of herbarium specimens of conifers

As an ongoing activity since 1996, Kew’s herbarium specimens have been databased, improving records by georeferencing and taxonomic identification of all specimens in the database.


Database for UK Fungi of Conservation Importance - COMPLETED 2011

Developing a database for those involved with fungal conservation


Dendrobium of Borneo

An account of the genus Dendrobium sensu stricto in Borneo (between 160 and 170 species)


Improving the Identification, Handling and Storage of ‘Difficult’ Seeds

Certain crop species may present difficulties in their conservation and use due to recalcitrant storage behaviour, inappropriate handling and/or dormancy issues. The project purpose was to improve identification, handling, storage and use of such species. Although aimed primarily at gene banks, the project is also relevant to community seed banks, and others aiming to maintain seed quality during storage.


Digitising the specimens and archive of A.F.G. Kerr, pioneering botanist in Thailand

Darwin Initiative Research Exercise on Community Tree Seeds (DIRECTS) in Africa
(project completed 2006)

The DIRECTS project investigates seed physiology and provides training for the longer term conservation of tropical community tree seeds through the MSB partnership in sub-Saharan Africa.


Documenting and Analysing Patterns in the Diversity and Distribution of Flowering Plant Genera

Diversity and Conservation of Madagascar Palms

Exploring and conserving one of the richest and most threatened palm floras in the world.


Diversity of macrofungi in Gunung Mulu National Park, Sarawak

This project is documenting the macrofungal community (mushrooms and allies) within the boundaries of Gunung Mulu National Park (Sarawak, Malaysia) using field surveys, comparative morphology, DNA barcoding, and phylogenetic analysis.


Assessing and conserving plant diversity in commercially managed tropical rainforests in Sabah - COMPLETED 2010.

A Guide to the Plants of East Sabah; a field guide to common families of lowland rainforests of Danum Valley, Maliau Basin and Imbak Canyon was published in 2010


Diversity of Neotropical Meliaceae

Taxonomic and systematic studies of an important timber tree family


Diversity of Neotropical Sapotaceae

Documenting one of the key components of the rain forests of Latin America


DNA Extraction from Herbarium Specimens

Databasing protocols used for extraction of DNA from herbarium specimens


DNA Banking of the UK Flora and Mycota: a Resource for Conservation Genetics and Comparative Plant and Fungal Biology

Creating a molecular reference library for the UK flora and mycota.


DNA Banking, Phylogeny and Conservation of the South African Flora

To support DNA banking activities and related conservation projects in South Africa, with a strong capacity-building component


Establishing a Standard DNA Barcode for Land Plants (project completed 2007) 

Deciding which short sequences of DNA can be used to identify plants



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