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Kew Science blog

Explore some of the research and activities of our global science and conservation programmes. Keep up to date with current developments in Kew science and science policy.

Using pesticidal plants for crop protection

Phil Stevenson, from Kew's Jodrell Laboratory, reports on how small holder farmers in Africa use wild plants to control pests and how his new projects are helping optimise their use and reduce pressure on wild habitats
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Photo of the Critically endangered Dypsis acaulis, discovered during a Kew expedition to north-east Madagascar and known only from a handful of individuals in an unprotected forest fragment

Island plant diversity: endangered and under-explored

This year’s International Day for Biological Diversity highlights the uniqueness of island biodiversity and the threats it faces, yet so much of island diversity remains essentially unknown. Assistant Keeper of Kew’s Herbarium and palm expert Bill Baker makes the case for Kew’s work on island plant exploration.
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Necklace from Peru of seeds of Oenocarpus, Ormosia and Coix lacryma-jobi, the woven band may be of Astrocaryum fibre (EBC 98112: Photo: F. Cook)

Botanical jewellery

New acquisitions of botanical jewellery in Kew’s Economic Botany Collection illustrate how plant parts can be transformed into fascinating cultural objects.

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Shrubs of Skytanthus acutus (Apocynaceae) in the flowering desert, June 2015 (Photo: M.Way)

Rainfall reveals botanical treasure in the Chilean Atacama Desert

After more than a decade of botanical exploration in the north of Chile, scientists from Kew and the Agricultural Research Institute of Chile (INIA) have secured unique seed collections for the Millennium Seed Bank.

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Aerial view of tropical forest (Image: William Milliken)

Blood, sweat and DNA: exploring the unknown Amazon

Kew’s Orchid Festival, opening this week with a Brazilian theme, features a new short film following an expedition along the French Guiana-Brazil border. The film examines how modern techniques and equipment, coupled with old-fashioned exploration, can help fill voids in our knowledge of the Amazon flora.

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Fungus-growing ants (Credit: Pepijn Kooij)

On the origin of mutualisms

Pepijn Kooij, from Kew’s Comparative Plant and Fungal Biology department discusses the importance of understanding the evolution of mutualisms in reference to fungus-growing insects.
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The Nagoya Protocol comes a step closer to fruition

China Williams, from Kew’s Conventions and Policy Section, reports on the latest international meeting to discuss a new legally binding regime governing access to genetic resources and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits – the Nagoya Protocol.
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Crop wild relatives - creating guides for seed collectors

There is a pressing need for agriculture to adapt to climate change, and learning more about wild relatives of crop plants could help us achieve this. Laura Jennings describes how collecting guides produced by Kew help make seed-collecting fieldwork as productive as possible.
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